Analysis & Opinions - The Hill

The United Nations Agency Going Backward on Climate Change

| June 28, 2021

Achieving net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century — which scientists agree is necessary to avoid catastrophic social, ecological and economic impacts — requires an all-hands-on-deck approach to reimagining the global economy. The maritime analogy is particularly apt because much of the global economy is dependent upon shipping, which moves 90 percent of global trade on some 90,000 commercial vessels.

Emissions from shipping alone amount to 3 percent of global emissions and they are quickly growing; they increased by 10 percent in the six-year period from 2012 to 2018. At this pace, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations shipping agency, has estimated that by 2050 emissions could grow by up to 130 percent of 2008 levels.

Needless to say, this is an unacceptable increase at a time when other sectors are working to constrain emissions. So back in 2018, the IMO announced a goal of reducing emissions by 50 percent by 2050. Taking into account the projected increases in emissions mentioned above, this means the IMO has set a goal of reducing emissions by up to 180 percent by mid-century. Anyone who has followed the IMO, or has a basic grasp of math for that matter, knows that this goal is purely for show.

Last week the IMO adopted measures that it claims will achieve that goal, and civil society was unimpressed, to say the least. The new measures require shipping companies to track and rate the energy efficiency of their ships and, for ships receiving a "D" rating for three years in a row, the company must provide "corrective action plans" describing how they intend to improve those numbers. These plans will not be made public and there is no mention of how, or if, companies will be held accountable for implementing them....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Clement, Joel.“The United Nations Agency Going Backward on Climate Change.” The Hill, June 28, 2021.