After two weeks of talks at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), governments have reached an agreement to reduce the carbon intensity of international shipping by 40% by 2030 from 2008 levels, as reported by the Guardian on July 7. The interim targets were also set to cut the total emissions from international shipping by at least 20% by 2030, with an ambition to achieve a 30% reduction by 2030. Governments further aim to reduce emissions by at least 70% by 2040, with a goal of an 80% reduction. The IMO also set out a target to reach net-zero emissions “by or around” 2050, which was criticized as “vague and noncommittal” by environmental groups. Efforts to impose a levy on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping have been delayed due to objections from major exporters including China, Russia, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, and Argentina.
The interim targets set by the IMO were considered insufficient for limiting global heating to within 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The International Council on Clean Transportation estimated that under the new agreement, international shipping would exceed its 1.5°C carbon budget by approximately 2032. However, if the shipping industry meets the 2030 and 2040 targets and fully decarbonizes by 2050, it may be possible to keep global temperature rise below 2°C. To achieve the agreed targets, the IMO agreement proposed the adoption of clean technologies in the shipping industry. The agreement also suggested that at least 5% of the energy used for international shipping by 2030 should be zero carbon or near zero carbon, with a goal to reach 10% by that date.