IMO's carbon targets may be missing the 1.5C target by a lot, new study shows

IMO’s carbon targets may be missing the 1.5C target by a lot, new study shows

The new decarbonisation target by the International Maritime Organization is widely criticized for adopting a trajectory that is inconsistent with a 1.5C global warming.

But research in a forthcoming white paper by the UMAS consultant has found that the UN’s ship control targets are “too close” to being implemented, according to chief consultant Nishatabbas Rehmatulla.

The targets are in line with the climate change trajectory of 1.6C for the minimum targets set by the IMO, or 1.55C for the maximum carbon cuts made by the new decarbonisation, he said.

“When you crunch the numbers, the IMO’s revised plan is a significant leap forward, aligning closely with other science-based targets,” Rehmatulla told TradeWinds. “And there is a much closer alignment in terms of sector ambitions.”

In July, the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee adopted a new target of net zero emissions by 2050 for the shipping industry, with “demonstrative checkpoints” calling for a 20% to 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 70 % to 80% reduction By 2040, compared to 2008 levels.

Many countries have called for reductions in line with the first Science-Based Target initiative calling for a reduction of 37% by 2030 and 96% ten years later, and environmental groups are demanding deeper reductions.

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Although the UMAS study found that the IMO’s targets may appear to be close to the 1.5C goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change, that does not mean it is enough.

Rehmatulla, one of the principal researchers at the University of London’s UCL Energy Institute, said fractions matter a lot when it comes to preventing the damage caused by climate change.

“It makes a difference in climate-vulnerable countries, which are at risk of facing these dangerous impacts, because of a fraction of a degree – because of sea level rise,” he told TradeWinds.

Nishatabbas Rehmatulla is a principal research fellow at the University of London’s UCL Energy Institute and principal advisor to UMAS. Photo: UMAS/UCL

The whitepaper will argue that if the IMO strengthens its desire for the next revision in 2028 by guaranteeing a reduction of 30% two years later and zero emissions in 2040 – 10 years before the target of the current IMO – the trajectory will be consistent with the 1.5C path.

But it will take more than targets to ensure that shipping follows any path.

For the IMO, that means faster action on policy measures, Rehmatulla said. The body is now considering market-based measures, which effectively means putting a price on carbon, and a fuel standard that will gradually tighten the limits on the greenhouse gas intensity of energy powering shipping.

The problem with not moving quickly is that the IMO has to wait a long time, the fastest deployment will have to reach zero emissions in order to keep the carbon budget within the path corresponding to the 1.5C goal of the Paris Agreement, he said.

And when the IMO set its first target in 2018, calling for a 50% reduction by the end of the century, the policy measures taken did not achieve its goals, Rehmatulla said.

“There is a chance that you can face this situation again in these intermediate steps,” he said. “And you’ll have to decide to balance these intermediate steps. All it does is waste your time when you don’t have it.”

The Paris Agreement on climate change set the goal of limiting “the increase in global average temperature to below 2C above pre-industrial levels” and pursuing efforts to “limit the increase in temperature to 1.5C”.

That limit is not far. The 2023 report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that at 1.1C above pre-industrial levels today, the world is already seeing the effects of climate change in the form of extreme weather, heat waves, ice retreat and sea level rise.

Those effects increase with each fraction of a degree.

For example, for an average global increase of 1.5C, heat waves are expected to occur 4.1 times the pre-industrial temperatures and are estimated to be 1.9C warmer. At 2C, those heat waves are 5.6 times more frequent and 2.6C is warmer.

Source: UNFCC, World Resources Institute

But the white paper will argue that the shipping revolution has not only been about the IMO. It will require that shipping be prevented from being negligent and include new IMO strategic targets, and that companies develop decarbonisation strategies built into all the levers of change, not just IMO and future regulation.

There is increasing pressure on shipping companies to adapt to 1.5C, and industry leadership’s vague efforts to do so are increasingly vulnerable to being labeled as greenwashing.

The white paper, whose executive summary will be revealed at the London International Shipping Week on Monday, will also point to the important role of national and local government, requiring measures to start decarbonisation in the critical period between 2027 and 2028 or measures to decarbonise at home. vehicles. Rehmatulla said those measures should include a balanced transition, reducing the economic burden on vulnerable countries.

UMAS will also show that the green corridors, agreed in 2021 by the group of countries that signed the Clydebank Declaration that called for the establishment of low-cost and zero-emissions routes between the important ports, must move quickly.

“The Clydebank Clydebank announcement, which is coming up on its second anniversary, really needs to come up with the desired performance on those greenways by 2025 – the latest in ’26,” Rehmatulla said.

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