The Marine Environment Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has today adopted an ‘Initial IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships’. The IMO is the specialised United Nations agency responsible for safe, secure and efficient shipping and the prevention of pollution from ships. Complex negotiations leading up to the adoption of this strategy have been underway for the past two weeks, where delegates from over 150 states met at the IMO headquarters in London. This meeting was mandated with the arduous task of adopting the strategy in accordance with a pre-agreed IMO roadmap. Malta, as an active member state of the IMO and a leading maritime nation, has supported the groundbreaking adoption of the said strategy.
Particularly since the adoption of the 2015 UNFCCC Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the IMO has been under increasing pressure to address the reduction of CO2 emissions from international shipping. Negotiations during this session of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee have been tense, in view of the sensitivity of the matter, the high expectations for the IMO to deliver, and considering the very divergent positions expressed by a large number of delegations present at the IMO headquarters in London.
Malta stressed the importance for the strategy to be ambitious, yet realistic and achievable by the international shipping industry. In this regard, the global introduction of alternative fuels and new technologies are essential elements when considering reduction of carbon emissions that could be delivered within a set timeframe. Malta has also emphasised that the implementation of the strategy should adopt a flag-neutral approach and maintain a level playing field.
The adopted strategy includes, as one of its main objectives, peaking GHG emissions from international shipping as soon as possible and reducing the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008. The strategy also contains a vision statement, which aims to capture the main goal aspired to, stating that: “IMO remains committed to reducing GHG emissions from international shipping and, as a matter of urgency, aims to phase them out as soon as possible in this century.”
The adoption of the strategy during this IMO meeting was a critical milestone, as it confirms the commitment of the IMO being the competent body to regulate international shipping to take the lead in addressing GHG emissions from ships. Furthermore, the adoption of this Initial Strategy not only paves the way for international shipping to further its actions in reducing GHG emissions but could also help guide the industry in making investment decisions for the future.
Minister Ian Borg, as minister responsible for shipping, welcomed the adoption of the initial strategy as an ambitious step in addressing reduction carbon emissions from ships. The shipping industry is now the first global sector with concrete figures for the reduction of GHG emissions; and the ultimate goal, full decarbonisation, is an achievement for which the IMO should be commended. Malta will continue to play a very active role in the further development and implementation of such a strategy both at an EU and international level.