Target Set for Cuts in Shipping Emissions

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April 15, 2018

The world's shipping industry has committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions, for the first time ever.

The target is a 50-percent reduction by 2050 of levels observed in 2008. Officials for the 173-member International Maritime Organization (IMO) made the announcement after weeklong talks in London.

According to the IMO, shipping across the globe generates emissions that would rank it as the world's sixth-largest emitter if placed in a list of nations. A new study found that if shipping emissions were not reduced, they would amount to 15 percent of the total amount by 2050.

The at times tense negotiations took place against the backdrop of varying priorities. Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and the United States led a bloc of nations who called for not setting a target. At the other end of the spectrum was the European Union, which argued for a cut of at least 70 percent. Some small island states had called for a complete reduction. The Marshall Islands, which has one of the world's largest shipping registers, nonetheless called for large reductions because of concerns over rising sea levels caused by global warming.

The reduction target for shipping was necessary, organizers said, because the landmark climate change agreements the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement did not include international activities, like shipping and aviation.

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