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

Laurence Tubiana | European Climate Foundation

Climate, economic stability and the Paris Agreement are all at stake in London shipping talks this week

As U.N. talks on cutting greenhouse gases from the shipping industry open in London, there are concerns that a dangerous complacency is taking hold in the sector. 

The main point of the meeting - which starts this week at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in London - is to define a response from the international shipping sector to the Paris Agreement. This is a commitment by all the world’s countries to reduce GHG emissions in order to avoid dangerous climate change – defined in the agreement as stabilising temperature rise well below 2C and pursuing efforts to limit to 1.5C.

Temperatures have already exceeded 1C, there is very little time now remaining to avoid risks which are existential for many countries, but damaging to all of global society. One of the central items of debate at IMO will be the discussion of its CO2 target or “level of ambition”. For this there are several proposals being considered. Only one of the proposals is close to being in line with the rate of GHG reduction that is necessary to achieve the Paris temperature goals – the 70-100 percent absolute reduction of emissions by 2050 (on 2008 levels) proposed by a collection of European and Pacific countries. 

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