Shipping Emissions Showdown

The International Maritime Organization, a U.N. agency responsible for preventing shipping pollution, is under pressure to halve greenhouse gas emissions from ships by the end of the decade and commit to reaching zero emissions by 2040.

Delegates of the IMO met in London the week of 3 July for preliminary talks on how to implement a new greenhouse gas strategy.

The world’s ocean-going vessels are responsible for some 3 percent of global carbon emissions. The sector, which transports over 90% of global trade, is considered one of the hardest industries to decarbonize, in part due to the large amounts of fossil fuels the ships burn each year.

Aoife O’Leary, CEO of the nonprofit Opportunity Green, said, “Bringing emissions down immediately and quite drastically is what is needed — and that is just much more controversial because then countries see that they have to actually do something… It’s really difficult to say how [the talks] will play out. There are a lot of interests pushing for different things. There is a lot of outside pressure pushing on the IMO because it is the climate negotiation of the summer.”