Shipping was the sole industry excluded from the 2015 Paris Agreement, even though the sector’s annual carbon emissions are higher than those of Germany — and countries now plan to address that. 173 nations just agreed to a historic, mandatory deal to slash shipping industry emissions.

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One week of negotiations at an International Maritime Organization (IMO) meeting in London yielded this landmark deal. Envoys of 173 countries agreed to reduce emissions at least 50 percent from 2008 levels by 2050. Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United States objected.

Shipping vessels tend to burn fuel oil, which is cheap but also one of the dirtiest fossil fuels. According to Bloomberg, the industry didn’t factor into the Paris agreement because each participating country presented its own plans to curb emissions, excluding the seas. University College London Energy Institute reader Tristan Smith told Bloomberg, “It is likely this target will tighten further, but even with the lowest level of ambition, the shipping industry will require rapid technological changes.”

“Making new ships emit less CO2 is the most obvious way to decarbonize the sector because ships have long lifetimes, usually around 25 to 30 years,” shipping officer Faig Abbasov of European NGO Transport & Environment told Bloomberg. “If you don’t build ships more efficiently, those ships will still be sailing around in the middle of the century.”

As with the Paris Agreement, some people are saying this new deal doesn’t go far enough. A statement from the Clean Shipping Coalition (of which Transport & Environment is a member) said the target set “falls short of the 70 to 100 percent cut by 2050 that is needed to align shipping with the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

Transport & Environment shipping director Bill Hemmings said, “The IMO should and could have gone a lot further but for the dogmatic opposition of some countries led by Brazil, Panama, Saudi Arabia. Scant attention was paid to US opposition.”

+ Clean Shipping Coalition Statement

Via Bloomberg

Images via Depositphotos (1,2)