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EU commits to help IMO curb global emissions
9/2/2011

The European Union has held out a conciliatory hand to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) over the regulation of maritime greenhouse emissions. A high level meeting of MEPs, experts and government officials hosted by the European Commissioners for transport and environment last week resolved that the EU should do all it can to help the IMO deliver a global regulation capping greenhouse-gas emissions in shipping this year. But the meeting stood firm on an EU commitment to act alone if the IMO cannot.

After the February 3 meeting, European Commission vice-president Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, and climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in a joint statement: "We are convinced that the shipping sector must deliver on the fight against climate change. We discussed how Europe can best progress in order for the maritime sector to contribute to cutting greenhouse gas emissions if there is no international agreement. But there should be no doubt: Europe must make every effort to help the IMO agree this year on global measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions from ships – now and in the long term."

The meeting conceded that “that in a global sector such as maritime transport, measures which are the most environmentally effective and make economic sense can best be achieved at global level, through the IMO.”

International shipping accounts for around 3 per cent of global GHG emissions and these maritime emissions are expected to more than double by 2050. It is the last high-emitting sector to face up to any sort of GHG emissions regulation. The industry broadly accepts the principle of doing its share to tackle climate change but the IMO has not succeeded in more than a decade of trying to come with a regulatory path that can be embraced across its 166-nation membership. In the face of this lack of progress, the EU has set down a deadline that if no global regulations emerge by the end of 2011 it will move to implement its own regional regime - a prospect not welcomed by the international shipping community.

Two more high-level EU meetings are envisaged this year to monitor progress at the UN and the development of a response. The IMO record of progress on emissions regulation and the slow pace of development of market-based measures to deliver global reductions suggests it will be very difficult for it to come up with an agreed solution by the end of this year.

 
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