Sixteen years after New Zealand set the world’s first net zero target, the global shipping industry just about caught up today.
As the chair of this week’s International Maritime Organisation talks asked negotiators to rise in applause, they signed off on targets to cut emissions 20% by 2030, 70% by 2040 and 100% “by or around, ie close to 2050”.
For an industry with the same volume of emissions as Germany, it’s much better than the status quo. Before today there were no 2030 and 2040 targets and a goal to just halve emissions by 2050.
But is it good enough? No one could argue it’s compatible with 1.5C but negotiators from the US and the Marshall Islands claimed it kept that temperature limit “within reach”. For Stretch Armstrong maybe.
And what about that much-hyped tax on shipping emissions? World leaders discussed it in Paris two weeks ago, Latin American nations railed against it on Monday but it barely got a mention today.
Governments quietly agreed to study it with a view to implementing it by 2027. But what level it will be set at and what it will be spent on are the next issues to be fought over.
Convincing shipping negotiators to spend it on anything other than cleaning up the sector and compensating for the measure’s economic impacts will be a tough sell.
So any wealthy nation hoping it will absolve them of the need to pay into a loss and damage fund are likely to be disappointed.
This week’s news:
- UAE’s al Jaber says Cop28 will fast-track phase down of fossil fuels
- Developing nations decry risk of UK breaking climate finance pledge
- Threat of EU carbon tax prompts dubious “green aluminium” claims in Mozambique
…from shipping talks
- Pacific “mixed feelings” after compromise on shipping’s climate goals
- Governments set to fail to plot shipping industry course for 1.5C
- Shipping set to boost climate targets
- The UK’s retreat from climate leadership is not in its national interest
- Identifying loss and damage is tough – we need a pragmatic but science-based approach
If you stand on the balcony of the IMO’s fourth-floor canteen, you can see across the Thames to the parliament in Westminster – with its Big Ben and riverside beer-drinking tents.
That’s where environment minister Zac Goldsmith drafted his resignation letter last Friday and where the fall-out from that has played out this week.
Goldsmith, who was close to former prime minister Boris Johnson, accused new prime minister Rishi Sunak of “apathy” on climate change, partying with Rupert Murdoch instead of discussing global financial reform with Mia Mottley and abandoning the UK’s flagship climate finance pledge.
The doubt cast on that pledge has worried developing countries. An African negotiator told us it was “disappointing” while Senegal’s Madeleine Diouf Sarr said it echoed the failed $100 billion pledge.
Former Cop26 speechwriter Alex Urwin writes that it’s not just bad for the developing world but for the UK too.
This article originally stated in the first sentence that Bhutan set the world’s first net zero target in 2015. This was based on a claim by the World Resources Institute. But a 2015 study says that New Zealand was the first country to set a carbon neutral target in 2007.