A Post MEPC72 Talanoa was organised at the University of the South Pacific on 7th June to answer the question “What is in the initial IMO Strategy and what does it mean for the Pacific?” See the Talanoa page here.
A deal has been reached at the 72nd meeting of IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC72). Countries agreed to at least a 50% reduction of international shipping emissions by 2050, compared to 2008 levels. It does not quite meet what the climate needed, but it’s an important first step. The Pacific countries with other climate ambitious nations had wanted a 70 – 100% reduction by 2050. Importantly, however, the deal leaves open revisiting the target as informed by science for it to align with the Paris Agreement. An important report on 1.5C will be published in October 2018 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That would be an important moment for the ambitious group to test whether the current targets in fact satisfy the needs of the Paris Agreement. We expect further negotiations on the target at MEPC73.
Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine said, “Today the IMO has made history. While it may not be enough to give my country the certainty it wanted, it makes it clear that international shipping will now urgently reduce emissions and play its part in giving my country a pathway to survival. This deal helps make every country a little safer, but even with a landmark sectoral cap and clear targets to reduce emissions consistent with the Paris Agreement, we will need to improve it over time in line with the latest science… When the late Tony de Brum first pushed the IMO to take action in 2015, many said it could not be done. There will be a star in heaven shining very brightly down on us tonight.”
Minister David Paul, Minister-in-Assistance to the President & Environment Minister of Marshall Islands, speaking at the opening of Mepc72 had said, “the argument being presented by some that climate action means a negative impact on shipping and trade is completely and utterly false.”
He added, “the technologies exist now to allow shipping to transition to clean and sustainable growth. Industry has clearly stated it wants to act. And so do shipping customers. It needs a clear policy signal from this body to do so. This is an opportunity to be grasped. One way or another the shipping sector – like all other global sectors – will have to decarbonize.”
“We are willing to work with all countries in this room to improve the text. At the same I have to be clear that the the Marshall Islands, home to the second largest flag registry in the world, will very publicly dissociate from an outcome from the MEPC that does not contain an explicit quantified level of ambition consistent with a possibility of achieving the Paris Agreement temperature goals. I will not go home to my children, and my country’s children, endorsing an outcome from the IMO that fails to face up to the greatest threat of the century,” Minister Paul said. Read his full statement here.
The International Maritime Organisation’s 72nd meeting of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC72) is meeting at the IMO HQ in London from the 9th to 13th April 2o18.
Besides discussing the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships, MEPC72 is also discussing the implementation of Sulphur 2020 limit, implementation of the Ballast Water Management Treaty, measures to reduce risks of use and carriage of heavy fuel oil as fuel by ships in the Arctic and marine litter.
The IMO is expected to deliver an Initial Strategy on international shipping GHG emissions reduction at MEPC 72. The Initial Strategy will, among other matters, determine the vision and level of ambition, and is expected to include an ‘action plan’ on the development of short-term measures (2018-2023). The action plan is being negotiated by a working group at ISWG GHG 3 taking place from 3 to 6 April. The Initial Strategy will lead to a revised IMO Strategy scheduled for delivery by IMO in 2023.
The Pacific delegations are working hard to get the most ambitious outcome possible. These are His Excellency Paulson Panapa, Tuvalu High Commissioner to New Zealand and Mr. Jimmy Nuake, Undersecretary Technical, Ministry of Infrastructure Development, Solomon Islands sharing their views on Twitter.
— Cleaner Ships, Safer World (@mepc72) April 6, 2018
— Cleaner Ships, Safer World (@mepc72) April 6, 2018
In preparation for MEPC72 the Pacific Islands Development Forum organised a workshop for technical officers from a number of Pacific member countries (Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu) from 7 to 9 February 2018. Read more on that workshop here.
The workshop discussed and agreed on a PIDF Pacific Position Paper for this MEPC72 meeting. The paper argues that a decarbonisation by 2050 strategy requires clear and significant short-term measures to be adopted if momentum is to be built and a clear decarbonisation pathway be demonstrated. Without this it is difficult to see how the ambition is given effect. The available science is clear that a delay in determining and implementing substantive measures until after 2023 makes a 1.5C target largely unattainable. To keep 1.5C alive the Initial Strategy must include commitment to implementation of adequate short-term measures to demonstrate early IMO/industry commitment to a decarbonisation trajectory.
The paper also considered the mid & long-term measures identified in the Chair’s note as poorly defined and limited in scope. Those measures, if implemented, appear far from sufficient to provide a transition to decarbonisation commensurate with a level of ambition in line with the 1.5C temperature goal.
The paper concludes that a move toward decarbonisation implies significant changes, challenges and opportunities for international shipping, including technology, related infrastructure, operations, fuel types and costs etc. This will have flow-on effects to Pacific domestic maritime transport, potentially both positive and negative. These may include increased domestic maritime costs, especially when significant proportions of imports are transhipped from regional hubs to smaller ‘spoke’ countries and significant proportions of imports are reshipped internally within countries on already uneconomic routes. There may be positive effect if increased cost effective efficiency and low carbon options can be successfully transferred to domestic shipping.
The February workshop also agreed on a submission paper that was subsequently submitted by the Marshall Islands with co-sponsorship of Kiribati, New Zealand, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. The submission paper proposes a set of tests that could be used to evaluate whether the strategy achieves its designated objectives:
- Are the Paris temperature goals explicitly referenced and central to the GHG reduction Strategy?
- Does the vision statement incorporate a range of rates of decarbonisation which include full decarbonisation by 2050?
- Do the levels of ambition incorporate at least a range of rates of decarbonisation which include full decarbonisation by 2050?
- Are there short-term measures in place or that can be implemented imminently that will achieve significant further absolute GHG reductions in the short-term? Are there mid- and long-term measures that can achieve full decarbonisation by 2050? and
- Does the Action plan include the urgent development of the short-term candidate measures that can achieve significant absolute GHG reductions in the short-term?
From the net