Weak Governance at UN Shipping Agency Delaying Action on Climate Change
(Transparency International Secretariat) The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is at risk of unresolved conflicts of interest due to shortcomings in its governance, according to preliminary key findings of a new study by Transparency International.
Private shipping-industry concerns could have undue influence over the policymaking process at the IMO, concluded the anti-corruption organisation. This could undermine the UN agency’s ability to effectively regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from maritime trade. According to a report by the European Parliament, the shipping industry could contribute up to 17% of global CO2 emissions by 2050 if left unregulated.
“The IMO was assigned the task of limiting and reducing emissions from shipping under the Kyoto Protocol back in 1997,” said Brice Böhmer, coordinator of the Climate Governance Integrity Program at Transparency International. “However, it took until 2016 for the IMO to even agree on a roadmap towards an initial strategy, due in 2018, and a revised strategy, due only in 2023. A well-functioning organisation’s governance structure should enable decisive action, but the governance flaws identified by our research suggests that this is not happening at the IMO because policy-making could be overly controlled by private companies.”
Transparency International urges the IMO to establish a stronger governance framework. The agency should engage in a transparent process of open dialogue with its external stakeholders (including civil society and industry), to improve transparency, ensure decision-making processes reflect the public interest, and apply robust integrity rules and measures.
There should be no delay on action to combat climate change. The Intersessional Working Group on GHG Emissions from Ships meeting in London today should set ambitious targets for reducing emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, and begin taking measurable action now.
Shipping industry needs an alternative to fossil fuels, but which one? (Phys.Org/University of Manchester) Abstract (Journal of Cleaner Production)
Shipping’s Heavy Fuel Oil Puts the Arctic at Risk. Could It Be Banned? (Inside Climate News)
Countries inch towards ‘bare minimum’ climate target for shipping (Climate Home News)
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Excerpt from The Washington Post: For shipping to decarbonize, current fuel oils would have to be replaced by biofuels or, perhaps ultimately, hydrogen or batteries. But such innovations so far are being tested only in smaller ships, rather than the largest vessels, Rutherford (Lars Robert Pedersen, The Baltic and International Maritime Council’s deputy secretary general) said.
“The largest container ships use a tremendous amount of energy. They’re going to be harder to electrify or put hydrogen in,” he said. READ MORE
Excerpt from Inside Climate News: Heavy fuel oil—the molasses-like sludge left after the oil refining process—is among the dirtiest fuels on the planet, and yet its use by ships is widespread in the Arctic, a pristine environment where it could do significant harm.
Burning the fuel contributes to climate change, and a spill in Arctic waters would be a nightmare for emergency response coordinators. But it’s cheap, and attractive for ships making long hauls, the kind of traffic on the rise as climate change makes Arctic shipping easier.
Concerns about the safety and use of the fuel in a delicate and remote environment led to it being banned in the Antarctic in 2011, but efforts to include the Arctic in that ban fell short.
On April 13, the committee agreed on plans to move forward with a ban of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic. Countries will submit proposals in October about how best to assess the impact of a ban, and in February 2019, an IMO subcommittee will develop a plan for implementing a ban.
When oil is refined, once the light and middle distillates (like liquid petroleum gas, kerosene and the gas used in vehicles) are removed, what’s left behind are the heavy distillates—wax, lubricating oils, asphalt and heavy fuel oil.
For ships operating across long distances, or in cash-strapped communities across the Arctic, heavy fuel oil is a relatively cheap option. But it also has a lot of impurities. When it’s burned, that results in emissions like carbon dioxide, as well as short-lived climate pollutants like nitrogen oxide (a precursor to tropospheric ozone), sulfur oxide and black carbon.
These short-lived climate pollutants don’t linger in the atmosphere for as long as carbon dioxide, but they are significantly more potent—meaning that it in their short lifetimes, they can do a lot to accelerate climate change.
A recent report by the ICCT found that the biggest user of the fuel in the Arctic is Russia, which used 140,300 tons of it in 2015, followed by Canada, which used 14,612 tons. Denmark used 13,893.
The black carbon, or soot, emitted by burning heavy fuel oil is a two-pronged threat. There’s climate-warming, when black carbon enters the atmosphere, and then additional warming when the soot falls back to Earth, blanketing the ice or snow below.
One gram of black carbon contributes 100 to 2,000 times more to global warming than one gram of CO2 on a 100-year timescale. A 2015 studyfound it is responsible for about a half a degree Celsius of warming in the Arctic. READ MORE