Maritime nations have been finalizing a plan on Thursday to reduce emissions from the shipping industry to net zero by around 2050, but experts warn the deal falls far short of what is needed to prevent climate catastrophe.
Negotiators at the United Nations International Maritime Organization meeting in London, considered key to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times, will officially agree Friday that emissions from the shipping reach net zero “by or about” 2050, rather than setting the date as a hard cut-off date.
The draft plan also calls for emissions from shipping to be cut by at least 20% but targeting 30% by 2030 and at least 70% but working towards 80% by 2040 despite push from Pacific nations for more ambitious goals. The experts calculate industry must reduce its emissions by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 to maintain the 1.5°C temperature target.
Environmentalists say the draft plan would see the shipping industry deplete its carbon budget, an estimate of how much carbon dioxide various industries and countries can emit before global warming limits are exceeded, by 2031.
“This week’s climate talks were reminiscent of rearranging sun loungers on a sinking ship,” said Faig Abbasov of Transport and Environment, a Brussels-based environmental non-governmental organization, which is part of the London meetings.
“The UN had an opportunity to set an unequivocal and clear course towards the 1.5°C temperature target, but all it came up with was a confusing botch,” Abbasov said.
The International Chamber of Shipping, which represents 80% of the world’s commercial fleet, expressed concern about the “lack of focus” on how to make the goals a reality.
The group asks for a rate on industry greenhouse gas emissions That would encourage producers to invest in alternative fuels and help developing countries target planet-warming gases spewed from ships, though environmentalists say this will have little effect and slow the shift away from fossil fuels.
“The new fuels that we expect most of the shipping industry will have to use, we anticipate will be two, three or four times more expensive than the fuel oil we use today,” said Simon Bennett, undersecretary. -General of the group. “So what we need to do is create a market for these new fuels.”
Options range from methanol, ammonia, hydrogen, sustainable biofuels and synthetic fuels, as well as technologies like carbon capture, but they are not currently scalable.
“In the shipping industry, nobody knows which horse to back,” Bennett said. “It is still far from certain which of these options will turn out to be the most viable.”
Except for some experimental projects, he said there are basically no fuels available to industry that do not emit greenhouse gases.
“Companies that are going to provide emission reduction equipment want a clear signal that it is safe to invest in these technologies. That is why it is important to have ambitious targets for 2030,” said John Maggs, director of shipping policy for Seas At Risk and president of the Clean Shipping Coalition, who also took part in the meetings.
“The only way to unlock this investment in clean shipping technologies would be to have a really strong 2030 target. A weak 2030 target would definitely be a missed opportunity,” he said.
After the IMO plan is adopted, major port nations like the US, China and Korea could move forward by setting even stricter limits within their jurisdictions, said Madeline Rose, senior climate director at advocacy group Pacific Environment.
“As we’re seeing with cars and trucks, when major markets set strong emission standards, the broader market responds,” Rose said. “Solutions exist. It’s about creating political conditions that force this industry to invest in those solutions instead of looking for profits based on cheap fossil fuels.”
The targets are reviewed every five years, which experts say means the industry is likely to contribute significantly to global warming before the plans are reviewed once more in 2028. The IMO’s previous target was for the industry to of maritime transport cut its emissions by at least half from 2008. to 2050.
Shipping currently accounts for nearly 3% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the IMO.
TO European Parliament report He warned that participation could rise dramatically by 2050 if steps are not taken to reduce the sector’s reliance on fossil fuels.
Ships carry around 90% of all globally traded goods and are a major source of pollution, emitting around a billion tons of greenhouse gases each year. This is roughly the same number as 243 coal plants. About 40% of all products transported by ships is coal, oil and gas that heats the atmosphere when burned.
TO University College London study estimated that each year of delay will cost the shipping industry an additional $100 billion to reduce its emissions to net zero.
Arasu reported from Bangalore, India. Courtney Bonnell in London and John Flesher in Traverse City, Michigan contributed to this report.
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