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Shukman writes: "Shipping generates roughly the same quantity of greenhouse gas as Germany and, if it were accounted for as a nation, would rank as the world's sixth biggest emitter."

Shipping. (photo: Getty Images)
Shipping. (photo: Getty Images)


Global Shipping in 'Historic' Climate Deal

By David Shukman, BBC News

16 April 18


The global shipping industry has for the first time agreed to cut its emissions of greenhouse gases.

he move comes after talks all week at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London.

Shippings has previously been excluded from climate agreements, but under the deal, emissions will be reduced by 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.

One minister from a Pacific island state described the agreement as "history in the making".

Shipping generates roughly the same quantity of greenhouse gas as Germany and, if it were accounted for as a nation, would rank as the world's sixth biggest emitter.

Like aviation, it had been excluded from climate negotiations because it is an international activity while both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement involved national pledges to reduce greenhouse gases.

The United States, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and a few other countries had not wanted to see a target for cutting shipping emissions at all.

By contrast the European Union, including Britain, and small island states had pushed for a cut of 70-100%.

So the deal for a 50% reduction is a compromise which some argue is unrealistic while others say does not far enough.

Kitack Lim, secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization, who had chaired the controversial talks, said: "This initial strategy is not a final statement but a key starting point."

The tiny Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands had opened the conference with a plea for action.

Although it has the world's second largest register of shipping, it had warned that failure to achieve deep cuts would threaten the country's survival as global warming raises sea levels.

As the talks concluded, the nation's environment minister David Paul said: "To get to this point has been hard, very hard. And it has involved compromises by all countries. Not least by vulnerable island nations like my own who wanted something, far, far more ambitious than this one."

Mr Paul added: "This is history in the making… if a country like the Marshall Islands, a country that is very vulnerable to climate change, and particularly depends on international shipping, can endorse this deal, there is no credible excuse for anybody else to hold back."

Laurent Parente, the ambassador of Vanuatu, also a Pacific island nation, was not satisfied but hoped the deal would lead to tougher action in future.

"It is the best we could do and is therefore what this delegation will support as the initial strategy that we have no doubt will evolve to higher ambitions in the near future."

By contrast, the head of the US delegation to the talks, Jeffrey Lantz, made clear his country's opposition to the deal.

"We do not support the establishment of an absolute reduction target at this time," he said.

"In addition, we note that achieving significant emissions reductions, in the international shipping sector, would depend on technological innovation and further improvements in energy efficiency."

Mr Lantz reiterated that the US, under President Trump, has announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

He also criticised the way the IMO had handled the talks, describing it as "unacceptable and not befitting this esteemed organisation."

But a clear majority of the conference was in favour of action.

The UK's shipping minister, Nusrat Ghani, described the agreement as " a watershed moment with the industry showing it is willing to play its part in protecting the planet".

The move will send a signal through the industry that rapid innovation is now needed.

Ships may have to operate more slowly to burn less fuel. New designs for vessels will be more streamlined and engines will have to be cleaner, maybe powered by hydrogen or batteries, or even by the wind.


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0 # economagic 2018-04-16 17:23
I'm with the EU et al: Reduce the emissions per vessel mile by AT LEAST 50 percent, then reduce the total number of miles traveled by AT LEAST as much. This is by 2050, at which point the battle to save the baby humans will largely have been completed, one way or the other. Business, cities, and entire countries are committing to reducing their total GHG emissions by 50 percent much sooner than that, and some are aiming for essentially zero by that point, though partly by just relocating the emissions geographically or chemically.
 
 
+2 # lfeuille 2018-04-16 19:24
Another reason to put the brakes on "free trade". The closer to home a product is made, the less fuel it takes to transport it.
 
 
+2 # jpap100 2018-04-16 20:05
‘Cheap’ imports may not be so inexpensive when the environmental costs are accuracturely included. Similarly, chasing ‘cheap’ labor around the globe should not be underwritten by failing to properly include the cost of shipping as well as the degradation resulting from unregulated production. In our ever smaller world, pollution anywhere is a threat to people everywhere.
 
 
+1 # economagic 2018-04-17 09:31
That's not the half of it. The concept of "externalities" --costs of production not paid for by the producers or benefits of their use not paid for by those upon whom they fall--have been part of the canon of mainstream ("neoclassical" ) economics for about a century. It took the "political economists" over a century and a quarter after Adam Smith (and a century or more before him) to recognize their existence AT ALL. The business model of "Global Megacorp," i.e., industry worldwide, is to externalize as great a part of the cost of production upon the public at large, while begging subsidies from government. The latter is in direct contradiction to the fundamental "free market" principle of government non-interventio n in markets. That is the meaning of Smith's "laissez faire" (leave them be), a concept that originated with the French philosophes whose work Smith had studied.
 
 
+1 # RLF 2018-04-18 05:31
You must also include the disposable nature of most of these products produced in less developed countries only to enrich the 1%. Global free trade is a cynical wealth concentrating device. Import duties balance labor and environmental impact costs.
 
 
0 # economagic 2018-04-18 11:02
"Import duties balance labor and environmental impact costs."

That's the idea, at least in part. Unfortunately they often fail to meet that objective, and are often used for other purposes entirely. See the writings of Ha-Joon Chang, especially "Bad Samaritans," in which he points out that ALL major industrial nations protected their "infant industries" from competition as they grew, and many, especially the US, now pretend to deny developing nations the same privilege.

Though some aspects of classical trade theory were put forth with honest intent, in the real world most aspect of that theory are as bogus as a three trillion dollar bill.
 

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