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.

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:

  1. Are the Paris temperature goals explicitly referenced and central to the GHG reduction Strategy?
  2. Does the vision statement incorporate a range of rates of decarbonisation which include full decarbonisation by 2050?
  3. Do the levels of ambition incorporate at least a range of rates of decarbonisation which include full decarbonisation by 2050?
  4. 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
  5. 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?


Also read:

We have a deal. But is it a good one?

The IMO’s 2018 climate agreement explained

ICCT Rapid Assessment: The International Maritime Organization’s Initial Greenhouse Gas Strategy

Influence Map: Decision time for the IMO on climate

Statement by RMI President Hilda Heine on the Adoption of IMO’s Initial Strategy

European Commission Memo on Key Takeaways from MEPC72

Moment of truth for the climate (and the Pacific) at the International Maritime Organisation

Statement of RMI’s Hon David Paul at MEPC72

An open letter to the EU Countries and the Commission from the Members of the European Parliament’s delegation to the IMO

The Tony De Brum declaration on shipping Emissions

The Suva Declaration on Climate Change

New OECD report suggests Pacific calls for decarbonising shipping by 2050 is achievable

Shipping Emissions Pacific Position Paper published

Pacific Maritime Technical Officers Workshop on Shipping Emissions

Reducing Maritime Transport GHG Emissions: Decarbonising Supply Chains

Countries must take back control of the IMO

Pacific’s call for Australia to leave its coal in the ground is also positive for reducing shipping emissions

Pacific leads High Ambition Coalition for Shipping Emission reduction

Pacific states lead from the front in Shipping’s Climate Change debate in London

PIDF Talanoa – The stance of the Pacific on shipping emissions

From the net

Japan shippers to seek alternatives to fossil fuels for IMO 2050 emission target

International Transport Forum calls for greater, more harmonised use of port-based incentives

IMO slammed for lack of transparency and ingenuous policy-making

Weasel words give owners breathing space in the emissions debate

Countries agree to cut shipping emissions, to Pacific delight

U.N. shipping agency reaches deal to cut CO2 emissions

ICS Applauds ‘Paris Agreement for Shipping’

Greenpeace: shipping carbon reduction plan far from enough, but crucial first step

International shipping agrees a climate target that will drive investment in clean fuel and technology

Shipping to halve carbon footprint by 2050 under first sector-wide climate strategy

Carbon dioxide from ships at sea to be regulated for first time

Clean Arctic Alliance hails IMO move to ban heavy fuel oil from Arctic shipping

Tiny Marshall Islands wields outsized clout for climate action

Commitment to decarbonise shipping is welcome – governments can no longer shirk decisions on how to cut ship GHG emissions

Global shipping in ‘historic’ climate deal

Has the IMO done enough to chart a course towards greener shipping?

Global shipping sector agrees historic greenhouse gas emissions plan

Wind Propulsion is an Essential Tool in Shipping’s Decarbonisation Efforts says the International Windship Association

The shipping sector has the technology to go green, it just needs the policy signal

Spectre of Europe taking independent action on shipping GHG regulations moves closer

Greenpeace urges IMO to protect Pacific, agree on rapid emissions phase-out

Countries inch towards ‘bare minimum’ climate target for shipping

Spirit of compromise points towards greenhouse gas deal at MEPC

The race against time

Clear divisions as MEPC gets down to business

NZ Government: Shipping must play its part in global effort to halt climate change

Climate talks for shipping ‘on a knife-edge’ as deadline looms

Governance at the International Maritime Organisation: The case for reform (Transparency International)

International Maritime Organisation needs better governance, NGO says

Campaigners Demand UN IMO Tackle Dangerous Shipping Emissions Now

Shipping Is Part of the Climate Problem (Bloomberg)

T&E: “Shipping industry sells out on Paris agreement on eve of UN talks”

International Maritime Organisation ‘too slow’ on emissions strategy

Comment: Now is the Time to Tackle Shipping Emissions

Watchdog Has ‘Serious Concerns’ Corporate Conflicts of Interest Could Stall Climate Progress at Shipping Talks

Reducing emissions from the shipping sector (European Union)

Maritime Regulator Seeks to Overcome Deep Divisions on Shipping Emissions

Opening remarks of IMO Secretary-General at meeting of Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships

IMO faces day of reckoning on emissions

Is a dangerous complacency taking hold in shipping over climate goals?

2035 and all that: Global warming, shipping emissions and acronym soup

Unchecked corporate and national interests said to be threatening IMO governance

IMO urged to ward off unilateral action with ambitious decarbonisation strategy

Shipping faces demands to cut CO2

Will the IMO deliver the climate deal of 2018?

European Shippers’ Council calls for faster CO2 cuts

Brazil fights emissions cap for shipping, citing cost concerns

All at sea: UN’s shipping body faces a climate crisis

Shipping executive: ‘We have deliberately misled public on climate’

EU’s top shipping nations named and shamed in new climate action ranking


Signatories of the Tony De Brum Declaration

International Maritime Organisation

Pacific Islands Development Forum

PGBC Sustainable Transport Page

Micronesian Centre for Sustainable Transport

MEPC 72 (site not affiliated with the IMO)