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Negotiations at this week’s hybrid meeting of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 77) have indicated support for zero emission shipping by 2050 – a more ambitious proposition than the IMO’s current 50% GHG emissions reduction goal – but discussions on the IMO's $5 billion R&D fund as well as the use of market-based measures, which are seen by many industry stakeholders as a way of accelerating shipping’s energy transition, have now been moved onto the agenda of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships which will meet in 2022.

This week the resolution proposal submitted by the Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands for zero emission shipping by 2050 gained the backing of eight countries, including Canada, Japan, the UK and the US. However, while another 31 countries voiced their support of the 2050 target, they did not go as far as voting for the resolution itself. Member states in this camp included the EU27, the Bahamas and Norway. It should perhaps be noted that several European countries, including Belgium, Finland, Denmark and France, did sign up to The Declaration on Zero Emission Shipping by 2050 at COP26 earlier this month

A number of countries vetoed both the 2050 zero emission target and the resolution, including Brazil China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Yesterday (24 November), mid-term measures for GHG emissions reduction took centre stage at IMO with a good number of delegates signalling their support of market-based measures, notably the introduction of a carbon levy on bunker fuel.

Countries that were in favour of a carbon levy – either as a standalone measure or as part of a basket of measures – included the EU27, Canada, Japan, Liberia and Pacific Islands nations. However, opposition to this came from a number of countries, including Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Argentina, China and Russia.

A number of shipping industry stakeholders, including the International Chamber of Shipping, have already voiced their strong support of a levy mechanism, and the Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands have submitted their joint proposal to the IMO for $100 carbon levy per tonne of CO2.

The 150+ signatories to the Call to Action for Shipping Decarbonisation, which was launched in September by a multi-stakeholder action taskforce convened by the Getting to Zero Coalition, also pointed to the need to introduce market-based measures to incentivise a switch from fossil fuels to zero emission fuels.

At this week’s IMO meeting there was also some support for an EU proposal for a low greenhouse gas fuel standard, which would facilitate a tapered use of GHG emitting fuels to zero by 2050. In addition to the EU27, this proposal drew the backing of Japan and Canada, but was vetoed by countries such as Argentina, Brazil, China, South Africa and Russia.

However, while market-based measures received a hearing this week at MEPC, no decisions were reached and so the issue will now be revisited in 2022 at the meeting of ISWG-GHG 12 which is scheduled for next May.

The same applies to any decision-making on the establishment of a $5 billion R&D fund to achieve the development of zero emission ships. The fund would be financed by a mandatory levy of $2 per tonne of bunker fuel over a 10-year timeframe. Again, there will be no progress on this issue until mid-2022.

 

 

 

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