Shipping tax hits stormy waters – Climate Weekly

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A ship in a storm (Photo credit: George Hodan)


Hopes have been rising recently that a global tax on shipping emissions will transform climate finance by bringing billions of dollars to developing countries for climate action.

After years as a low-profile proposal made by tiny Pacific nations in obscure shipping talks, the idea hit the big-time last week as French president Emmanuel Macron and US treasury secretary Janet Yellen discussed it in front of the world’s press.

But, speaking to Climate Home in the lobby of the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) London headquarters this week, one of the tax’s key proponents had a message for the likes of Macron and Yellen.

“This money is not to fill in the gap where you failed,” said Marshall Islands shipping talk negotiator Albon Ishoda, a sentiment with support across the developing world.

The $60-80 billion a year should be spent on cleaning up shipping and dealing with any negative economic effects of the tax, he said.

But fear of those negative effects is causing resistance to the proposal.

Levy opposition

At the IMO this week, Brazil led a Latin American rebellion against the measure. The continent is concerned that any rise in shipping costs will affect its exports, much of which are cheap, heavy things like soybeans which are shipped to faraway places like China.

And while Europe backs the measure, other wealthy nations like the US and UK are sitting on the fence.

Negotiators at the IMO will decide next week whether to put the levy on a list of measures to deal with climate change. Talks on how much it should be and what it should be spent on would come later.

Other issues include what 2050 emissions reduction goal to set and whether to have 2030 and 2040 goals.

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