The global shipping industry has agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, but critics say the deal is deeply flawed.
Ships produce 3% of the world’s carbon 2 emissions, but countries now need to reduce this as much as possible to zero by mid-century.
Small islands welcomed the plan, but green groups were angry.
They believe the strategy is toothless and does nothing to curb rising temperatures.
The global shipping industry is critical to world trade, carrying up to 90% of commercial goods. But that trade involves using some of the most carbon-heavy fuels to power ship engines, causing significant pollution.
These dirty chimneys produce roughly the same amount of carbon each year as Germany.
But maritime transport has been difficult to control as ships are often owned in one country but registered in another.
Small states such as the Marshall Islands, Liberia and Panama have a large number of ships sailing under their national flags but have no responsibility for these ships.
This complex arrangement Shipping was left out of the Paris climate agreement in 2015, when the world launched an international plan to combat rising temperatures.
In the year In 2018, it agreed to cut carbon emissions in half by 2050, but this has been shown by scientists to be insufficient.
Now, after increasing pressure from a coalition of countries including the UK, US and Pacific Island states, delegates meeting in London have agreed a new strategy to bring emissions to “at or near” zero by 2050.
Net-zero means that the emissions remaining at that time are eliminated by actively removing them from the atmosphere.
Developed countries and small islands have called for a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 and a 96% reduction in emissions by 2040.
But the new strategy, which sees “indicative checkpoints” rather than hard targets against opposition from China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and others, aims to see shipping emissions cut by at least 20% and at least 70% by 2030. 2040.
For both checkpoints, it says countries should “focus” on reaching higher targets of 30% by 2030 and 80% by 2040.
Vanuatu’s climate change minister, Ralf Regenvanu, said: “This result is not perfect, but countries around the world have come together – and it gives us a shot at 1.5C.”
Keeping global warming below 1.5C is a key part of the Paris Agreement, and scientists agree that allowing the world to warm above that level is too dangerous.
Industry voices also welcomed the new deal, but with reservations.
“The fact that the revised strategy aims to achieve net zero emissions by or around 2050 is a remarkable development, and the introduction of indicative benchmarks for reducing emissions by 2030 and 2040 is an important signal to governments and industry,” said CEO Johan Christensen. International Maritime Forum.
“However, the revised strategy falls short of providing the necessary clarity and strong commitments for a fair and just Paris Agreement-led transition.”
While many environmental groups have strongly criticized the new deal, the new shipping plan will do little to keep the world under that key temperature limit.
“While incorporating the 2030 and 2040 emissions reduction targets into shipping is not easy, this strategy will see the shipping industry exhaust its 1.5C carbon budget by 2032,” said Madeleine Rose from the Pacific Environment Campaign Group.
The move revives the new agreement on carbon offsets, which has been strongly supported by developing countries who believe it will be key to reducing emissions in the coming decades.
“Ultimately, it’s not the targets, but the incentives we put in place to achieve them. That’s why we’re going to fight hard for a tax that will bring us to zero emissions in the Pacific Ocean by 2050,” said Minister Regenvanu.