Canada is considering an international proposal that would double the ambition of its targets for greenhouse gas emissions from shipping, a plan that observers say the country appears willing to support.
A committee of the International Maritime Organization, which sets the rules for the high seas, is debating a resolution this week that would set a net zero target for all international shipping by 2050. The current goal is to cut emissions in half by that date. .
On Friday, Transport Canada officials briefed stakeholders on the positions their representatives would take at the meeting.
“In that discussion with stakeholders, Canada said it would support the resolution,” said Andrew Dumbrille of the World Wide Fund for Nature, who was at the briefing.
Canada, which has an overall goal of net zero by 2050, also spoke in favor of the resolution at the start of the meeting Monday, Dumbrille said.
“They made a very clear and unequivocal statement,” he said.
Transport Canada did not confirm its position while the meeting was ongoing.
“Canada reiterated its commitment to reduce emissions from international shipping, in line with the Paris Agreement,” spokesman Sau Sau Liu said in an email. “Sending a clear and strong signal about ambition is essential, as the complete decarbonisation of the sector will require significant efforts and investments.”
The resolution, proposed by a group of island states threatened by rising sea levels, is expected to be discussed until the close of committee meetings on Friday.
Dumbrille said the decisions of the Marine Environment Protection Committee are generally made by consensus, but this resolution is controversial enough that it can be put to a vote.
Canada considers stricter #GHG rules for shipping in a proposal at an international meeting. #CDNPoli #IMO
“It’s a very heated debate,” he said.
He said members, including the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom, have been sympathetic to the resolution.
Miako Ushio of the Shipping Federation of Canada said the industry supports going to net zero as soon as possible. He also said that it is important that regulations on the subject are international, rather than a mosaic from one country to another.
However, getting there will not be easy, he said.
“We need to recognize that enormous innovation and investment in research and development is needed before carbon neutral fuels and technologies are ready to be deployed by the ocean fleet on a global scale. Although zero emissions by 2050 are necessary to align with the Paris Agreement targets, at this point it would be an aspirational target. “
Although shipping accounts for less than three percent of global emissions, they increased 10 percent between 2012 and 2018.
“It’s a big problem,” Dumbrille said. “Action on climate change is a global concern and the IMO target has been deemed weak for years.”
The language of the resolution is non-binding, saying only that the current targets are inadequate and that net zero is “essential.”
Dumbrille said that even that is progress and that it would begin to align shipping with what other economic sectors are already promising.
“When the world moves toward zero by 2050 in other sectors, let the IMO say 50 percent is woefully inadequate.”
This Canadian Press report was first published on November 23, 2021.