Japan's Climate Position Causes Conflict in Decarbonization Dialogues

Despite some promising R&D efforts by Japanese shipping interests, at a national level, Japan's disproportionately influential role as chair of the MEPC (Marine Environment Protection Committee) is now sitting in the shadow of the disastrous oil spill in the Indian Ocean jurisdiction of Mauritius, with several Japanese Government agencies and companies, as well as the IMO and other oil industry bodies, meant to oversee the clean-up effort.

Global shipping subsidizes the entire oil industry through operating on heavy fuel oil, and what isn't burned off, emitting immense amounts of carbon dioxide and other pollutants, is leaked into the ocean with regularity across the international fleet. If shipping did not take this heavy fuel oil at a value of ~US$150b/year, the oil industry would have to pay to dispose of it safely. As a subsidy for the entire oil industry, it provides refineries with a revenue stream in a market with lax environmental controls

Madeline Rose, Climate Campaign Director, Pacific Environment highlights the irony of voluntary self-regulation. “The shipping industry is living on a different planet. They continue to oppose 100% decarbonization by 2050, when the health of our planet requires that they fully decarbonize by 2035.” 

Japan's stance at the IMO involves lobbying for the shipping sector's giant 1 billion tonnes of annual greenhouse gas emissions (which would place it as 6th in the country rankings), to be allowed to keep rising in absolute terms for at least another decade, in violation of Japan's own signing of the Paris Agreement.


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