U.N. delegates fail to agree on ship efficiency plan
United Nations shipping agency delegates failed to reach agreement on a proposal aimed at targeting carbon emissions on new ships, delegates said, adding that more work was needed on the plan. The shipping sector accounts for nearly 3 percent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and calls have grown for cuts.
Delegates attending a session of the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) marine environment protection committee (MEPC), had considered a proposal submitted by Japan, Norway and the United States for technical and operational measures aimed at reducing CO2 in ships.
These included an energy efficiency index to ensure the design of new vessels are environmentally friendly as well as fuel-efficient best practices for existing and new ships.
"Development of the technical issues did not progress to a degree that the measures could be considered complete," John Aitken, secretary general of industry group SEAaT which seeks CO2 cuts, said.
Simon Walmsley, marine manager with environmental group WWF International, said it was a disappointment.
"For us the minimum extension of progress was the EEDI (energy efficiency design index)," he said. "What they have even struggled to do is to agree to an inter sessional meeting."
Delegates said an inter sessional meeting was agreed to which would thrash out technical issues ahead of the next MEPC session in September.
Aitken, whose members include BP's and Royal Dutch Shell's shipping units, said opposition from countries such as China and India to mandatory regulation had also slowed the process.
China has argued a "common but differentiated" principle that developing countries should take action to fight climate change but not assume the internationally binding emissions targets that developed countries must shoulder under U.N.-backed climate treaties.
A climate meeting in Copenhagen in December, the 15th under a U.N. process (COP 15), delivered little in a drive to agree a replacement to the existing Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which excludes shipping and aviation.
The MEPC session did propose to set an "expert group" to look at market based measures aimed at cutting CO2 in ships.
Aitken said the "common but differentiated" principle had also dogged progress on market based instruments.
"The fact that COP 15 provided no lead with respect to shipping has meant there has been no movement on this issue," he said, adding that the expert panel was still a welcome step forward.
Earlier on Friday delegates adopted a proposal to create a low-emissions buffer zone around the United States and Canada.