Members of the global shipping industry have agreed on a landmark deal which will have numerous benefits for the environment.
Last week, talks were held at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London, where the agreement was developed and signed. This is the first of its kind, and a step towards regulating the carbon footprint of a massive industry.
The deal states that greenhouse emissions, caused by industrial shipping methods, will be reduced by 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.
According to science journalist Shipping generates roughly the same quantity of greenhouse gas as Germany and, if it were accounted for as a nation, would rank as the world’s sixth biggest emitter.
Like aviation, it had been excluded from climate negotiations because it is an international activity while both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement involved national pledges to reduce greenhouse gases.”
“This is history in the making…” – Marshall Islands Environmental Minister, David Paul
There was some backlash to the proposal, with Brazil and The United States opposing a deal, but the majority of countries pushed for a vote, leading to the compromised rate of a 50% cut.
Smaller countries, such as the Marshall Islands (a tiny Pacific nation), were delighted at the results, emphasising how it would effect them directly. “To get to this point has been hard, very hard. And it has involved compromises by all countries. Not least by vulnerable island nations like my own who wanted something, far, far more ambitious than this one.” said the country’s environmental minister David Paul, “This is history in the making… if a country like the Marshall Islands, a country that is very vulnerable to climate change, and particularly depends on international shipping, can endorse this deal, there is no credible excuse for anybody else to hold back.”
Some of the measures set in place will ensure that ships use less fuel, even if that means longer journey times and slower speed restrictions in place.