MEPC 74: Shipping Industry, NGOs Offer Opposing Assessments of GHG Progress

Friday May 17, 2019

As two weeks of discussion at IMO ended Friday, the Shipping industry and NGOs have delivered widely different assessments of the progress made towards reducing the industry's GHG footprint.

In a statement released today, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) welcomed the steps taken to reduce GHG intensity at least 40% by 2030 compared to 2008 levels.

"If this solid IMO momentum continues then the industry is on track to meet the 2030 target. Progress by the industry so far will be clearer after the conduct of the next IMO Greenhouse Gas Study, whose terms of reference were finalised this week," said ICS Secretary General, Guy Platten.

"Hopefully this will confirm that the sector's total emissions actually peaked in 2008 due to the technical and operational efficiency measures that shipping has taken since then to reduce its fuel consumption."

But NGOs had a very different take on the two weeks, particularly as none of the heavily pushed proposals to reduce ship speeds were adopted.

European campaign groups Transport & Environment and Seas at Risk said the were "appalled at the complete lack of ambition shown by the IMO this week."

Even changes to the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) framework, bringing forward improvement measures for a number of ships, were seen by NGOs as being not enough.

"What a shame that IMO continues to treat the EEDI as a way of describing what is already happening rather than mapping out a future pathway to decarbonisation," said John Maggs, Seas at Risk.

"The sound of deckchairs being rearranged was deafening at IMO this week. Faced with demands for urgent action to tackle the climate emergency, the IMO became a parody of itself with those that never wanted shipping climate action in the first place ensuring little or no progress was made."