The twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) and the eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) will take place from 30 November to 11 December 2015, in Paris, France.

The aim of the COP21-summit is for the COP to reach, for the first time, a new legally binding international climate agreement by the conclusion of COP21 to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C or 2°C above pre-industrial times.

Whilst it is true that the international shipping industry is the most carbon efficient mode of freight transportation, it is the massive size of the global shipping fleet (approximately 60,000+ ships moving about 90% of global trade) traversing the oceans that keeps the industry and its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) firmly in the spotlight*. However, the shipping sector will be exempted from targeted CO2 -emissions cut in the December Paris Climate Agreement, according to the latest draft deal. “This is an irresponsible U-turn”, say environmental groups Seas at Risk and Transport & Environment. “CO2 emissions from shipping and aviation are set to grow by up to 250% by 2050, making attempts to limit global warming to 2°C all but impossible.”

It is true that the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has already taken some decisions to reduce fuel consumption and as such CO2 –emissions, such as the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) which was adopted is not going far Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP), and MARPOL Annex VI air pollution regulations. However, many observers recognise substantial further increases in average efficiency for the world fleet are necessary.

Being excluded from the CO2 –emissions reduction also means that shipping does not contribute to the climate finance. This is in a sense regrettable because the cost of shipping in the overall cost of a product is minimal. Without a clear signal from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the IMO will not take its responsibility to adopt the necessary decisions to ensure that shipping takes a fair share of the burden of reducing emissions.

* To put that figure into perspective with regards to the scale of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions within the industry, over the period 2007–2012, average annual fuel consumption ranged between approximately 247 million and 325 million tonnes by all ships globally. This fuel consumption translates into estimated annual CO2-emissions from shipping ranging between approximately 739 million and 795 million tonnes per year (this figure is approximately equal to Germany’s annual CO2-emissions).

The Third IMO GHG-Study also stated in its findings that in 2012 the shipping industry was accountable for 2.2% of the amount of global CO2- and GHG-emissions. There was controversy surrounding the publication of this figure as the Study proved that there had been a significant drop in the percentage of global CO2- and GHG-emissions for which the shipping industry was accountable from 2.7% in 2009. In fact, if you examine each year the amount of CO2 that the shipping industry is accountable for globally, it is decreasing (almost) every year; in 2008 it was 2.9%, in 2009 it was 2.7%, in 2010 it was 2.3%, 2011 it rose slightly to 2.4% and in 2012 it was 2.2%.

Source: ctech, November 2015