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International Maritime Organization Aims to Cut GHG Emissions in Half by 2050

Countries congregating at the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London last week adopted an initial strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships as they set out a broad vision to phase those emissions out from global shipping as quickly as possible.

The new strategy calls for GHG emissions from international shipping to be reduced by at least 50 percent by 2050 compared to 2008 levels. The strategy also identifies barriers and supportive measures, including capacity building, technical cooperation and research and development toward meeting the goals.

“I encourage you to continue your work through the newly adopted Initial GHG Strategy, which is designed as a platform for future actions,” IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim told delegates. “I am confident in relying on your ability to relentlessly continue your efforts and develop further actions that will soon contribute to reducing GHG emissions from ships.”

The IMO has already adopted global mandatory measures to address the reduction in GHG emissions from ships and is executing global technical cooperation projects to support the capacity of countries—particularly developing nations—to implement and support energy efficiency in the shipping sector, the organization noted.

The initial strategy identifies ambitious goals for the international shipping sector, including the worldwide introduction of alternative fuels and energy sources. It also stresses that carbon intensity should decline through implementation of further phases of the energy efficiency design index for new ships, with overall goals of reducing CO2 emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030, pursuing efforts toward 70 percent by 2050.

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The IMO noted that its contribution to the global efforts to address climate change features prominently in its Strategic Plan. The mandatory data collection system for fuel oil consumption of ships, which entered into force last month, will provide robust data and information on additional measures for potential adoption. The data collection system is intended to be the first in a three-step approach in which data analysis will drive an objective, transparent and inclusive policy debate.

Implementation of IMO’s energy-efficiency measures is provided by two major global projects–the Global Maritime Energy Efficiency Partnerships Project aimed at supporting the implementation of energy efficiency measures for shipping to reduce GHG emissions, and the global maritime technology network project funded by the European Union that established a network of Maritime Technology Cooperation Centers in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific.

The CMA CGM Group, a major maritime transport group, said it welcomed the adoption by member countries of the IMO carbon emissions target for 2050.

“The CMA CGM Group is already strongly committed to the protection of the environment and has implemented a proactive policy aimed at significantly reducing its CO2 emissions,” the company noted. “Thus, over the years, the group has developed several innovations (such as fleet and engine optimization), which led to an improvement of its carbon efficiency by 50 percent between 2005 and 2015 and by 10 percent in 2017.”

CMA CGM said it has also set itself a new ambitious goal of improving its carbon efficiency by 30 percent between 2015 and 2025.

Critical to its commitment to energy transition, CMA CGM will be the first shipping group in the world to own in its fleet (starting in 2020) of giant ships of 22,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) powered by liquefied natural gas. The result of several years of research conducted within the group, the choice of liquefied natural gas is expected to enable 99 percent less sulphur emissions, 99 percent less fine particles, 85 percent less nitrogen oxides emissions and up to 25 percent less CO2.