MEPC on verge of agreeing to slash GHG emissions by at least 50%

Draft text would see total shipping sector GHG emissions cut by a minimum of 50% by 2050, from 2008 levels.

Delegates at the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 72) in London. Image credit: International Maritime Organization (IMO) Flickr CC BY 2.0

Updated on 13 Apr 2018 00:21 GMT

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) looks set to reach an historic decision to cut the shipping sector's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in London on Friday.

After four days of negotiations, out of 173 IMO member states, only two have made an official objection to the draft text - Saudi Arabia and the US.

All other member states from around the world are either openly or tacitly supporting the draft text, and its passage through to committee stage on Friday.

Argentina and Brazil had been vocally fighting the outright reduction target but did not reserve their position on the draft text, potentially paving the way for an agreement on Friday which is traditionally carried out by consensus.

The draft text would see total shipping sector GHG emissions cut by at least 50 percent by 2050, from 2008 levels - implying anywhere between 50 percent and 100 percent.

This wording was crucial to keeping Pacific Island delegations on board, many of whom were required by their governments to keep open full carbon neutrality by this date as a condition of meeting the Paris Agreement temperature goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C.

The draft also commits to pursuing the phase-out of emissions "on a pathway of CO2 emissions reduction consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goals".

The deal is expected to be finalised on Friday.

Mrs Enemo Amaechi, Chief Legal Officer, Office of the APR-IMO, Nigeria High Commission, commented: "Climate change is already having an impact on Nigeria - greenhouse gas emissions are a real threat. A 50 percent cut [in shipping sector CO2 emissions] by 2050 is okay. We know it will not be easy for us, in terms of the impact on trade, but we are ready to go ahead. It must be done."

One Korean delegate, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "No delegations are fully satisfied today, but the adoption of the initial strategy [on Friday] is very important. We support the draft text (of 50 percent cuts by 2050). We are going to fully support the reduction of maritime greenhouse gases."

Commodore Syed Ariful Islam, Director General to the Department of Shipping, Government of Bangladesh, remarked: "We are one of the countries that will be adversely affected by climate change. We are guided by the Paris Agreement, and support environmental measures everywhere. We support the draft text (of 50 percent cuts by 2050)."