In the fight against climate change, maritime shipping worldwide must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by around 2050. This provides for a decision on which the members of the World Maritime Organization IMO agreed on Friday after lengthy consultations in London. On the way there, there are intermediate targets with marks for the years 2030 and 2040. In addition, the new climate protection timetable of the IMO provides for a price for the emission of greenhouse gases such as CO2 from 2027 and global standards for climate-friendly fuels.
The IMO is a special organization of the United Nations and sets binding rules for shipping worldwide. The previous climate strategy of the IMO only provided for a 50 percent target by 2050. Climate neutrality of the sector was not striven for until the end of the century.
Wissing: "a huge success"
Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) spoke of a "great day for the climate and shipping". The London IMO resolution is "a huge success, particularly in view of the various national interests, which can also be attributed to the commitment of Germany and the EU". The general manager of the Association of German Shipowners (VDR), Martin Kröger, said in Hamburg: "It is a historic day for shipping." With a view to many different countries and regions of the world with different interests, "the impossible was made possible". "Everyone has recognized that there is no alternative to climate neutrality."
Specifically, the new IMO climate strategy states: "Greenhouse gas emissions from international maritime transport should peak as soon as possible and by or around 2050, i.e. close to 2050, taking into account different national circumstances be reduced to zero." By 2030 and 2040, the IMO has stipulated a reduction in annual emissions of at least 20 percent and at least 70 percent, respectively, with a target of 30 percent and 80 percent, respectively, compared to 2008.
The waiver of a fixed target for 2050 is considered a formula compromise that made an agreement possible in the first place. "In the long IMO negotiations over the past few days, it quickly became clear that some countries, such as the member states of the European Union and the USA, cannot and do not want to follow the same pace due to their geographical location or more difficult economic conditions," it said VDR. "In order to address the concerns of developing countries, minor deviations should now be possible when it comes to reaching climate neutrality."
The environmental association Nabu meanwhile criticized that the IMO had missed a great opportunity. "The reduction targets that have been decided still do not correspond to the 1.5-degree target of the Paris climate protection agreement," said Nabu Federal Managing Director Leif Miller in a statement. "Now it is all the more important that an international CO2 price for shipping is tackled and implemented quickly."
Shipowners' Association insists on quick planning security
The IMO also supports such pricing, although it remains unclear which instrument is to be used. A direct climate tax on CO2 emissions would be conceivable, or alternatively a system in which emitters have to prove their rights to emit gases that are harmful to the climate and can trade with them. The EU, for example, is also planning such a system for the shipping sector in the future. According to the IMO, the "price mechanism for maritime greenhouse gas emissions" should be decided in 2025 and come into force in 2027.
"Just a year ago, the mere idea of introducing a global emissions price mechanism and a global standard for environmentally friendly fuels by 2027 would have been considered a fantasy," said the Danish container shipping company Maersk. "Together with the ambitious goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, this London agreement sends a clear signal to the shipping industry and fuel manufacturers: the time to invest is now and the associated risks are removed."
The shipowners' association insists on rapid planning security. "That's why we need clarity quickly about how emissions pricing by the IMO will look in detail and how existing pricing models such as the EU emissions trading system can be integrated into such an international measure," said Kröger shipping and for effective climate protection do not create a patchwork of regional special paths. And we don't want to pay twice for the same emissions."