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DENMARK, the United States and 12 other nations have put forward a declaration to reduce emissions in the global maritime sector to zero by 2050.

The International Maritime Organization’s current goal is to halve emission by 2050 from 2008 levels. With around 90% of world trade transported by sea, global shipping accounts for nearly 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a news conference at COP26, “We urge the IMO to take action to set ambitious targets to achieve zero emission shipping by 2050.

“Carbon-neutral shipping is vital to reaching our climate goals.”

Along with Denmark and the US, nations signing the declaration included Belgium, Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, the Marshall Islands, Norway, Panama and Sweden.

The declaration bases its emissions reduction goals on the Paris Agreement, to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

“In order to keep the Paris Agreement temperature goal within reach, emissions from international shipping should peak immediately, undergo significant reductions in the 2020s, and reach zero emissions by 2050,” the declaration states.

It also notes the Call to Action for Shipping Decarbonization signed by more than 200 companies and organisations, which includes a request for the IMO to set a target for zero emission shipping by 2050.

The declaration recognises the “importance of international collaboration and investment in the production of zero emission fuels, and the related importance of creating green shipping corridors and infrastructure and other efforts to ensure a critical mass of zero-emission ships are on the water by 2030”.

Signatories to the declaration pledge to work at IMO to adopt the zero emissions goal as well as goals for 2030 and 2040 that “place the sector on a pathway to full decarbonisation by 2050, and to adopt the measures to help achieve these goals”.

Notably, countries with significant interests in global shipping such as Japan and Greece did not sign the declaration.

Reuters reported an IMO spokesperson as saying it would hold discussions on proposals from countries for broader climate measures to be adopted in 2023.

“IMO is providing the global forum where member states can bring forward their proposals for discussion,” the spokesperson reportedly said.

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The IMO has also reported on its progress and achievements in addressing emissions from international shipping at COP26.

In a statement to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 52-55), the IMO Secretariat highlighted recent developments, including the adoption in June this year of mandatory short-term measures to reduce the carbon intensity of international shipping by at least 40% by 2030.

“This important achievement, that will be implemented from 2023, will drive further energy efficiency improvements in the global fleet, which is also expected to reduce GHG emissions from shipping,” the IMO said in a statement.

IMO has started to consider concrete proposals for mid- and long-term GHG reduction measures, “including potential market-based measures, which will further reduce GHG emissions from shipping, and how to further progress work on impact assessments”.

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