COP27 had a lower profile than other Climate Summits, as it was very difficult to reach global agreements, mainly because many leaders traveled to Egypt deeply concerned about the war in Ukraine, inflation and high energy costs, all of them serious threats to the world economy.
However, in specific sectors, progress was made. This is the case of the Maritime Sector, since this edition of the summit, known as the “Implementation COP”, due to the type of agreements reached, allowed the climate actions of the maritime transport sector to stand out more than expected. And as the inevitable shift away from fossil fuels takes another leap forward, it’s no longer about the direction of travel, but about how fast the industry can move and, in doing so, inspire other sectors.
Responsible for transporting 90% of world trade and the world’s supply of food, fuel, medicines and goods, the global shipping industry accounts for 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions. After a long history of ships powered by wind, coal and oil, a fourth propulsion revolution is now underway as shipping moves away from conventional fuels and transitions to alternative low-carbon technologies and fuels or without them, helping the international community to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
During the summit, zero-emission international shipping lanes came one step closer to becoming a reality, as the United States struck a grand deal with the United Kingdom, Norway, and the Netherlands to implement green shipping links between them.
So-called “green shipping corridors” are specific end-to-end decarbonized shipping lanes, including both land-based infrastructure and ships.
For its part, the International Maritime Organization has pledged to be as ambitious as possible in the decarbonisation of shipping. The organization’s strategic plan for 2018-2023 strongly supports the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and identifies as one of IMO’s main objectives the need to develop ambitious and realistic solutions to minimize the contribution of shipping to air pollution in response to climate change.
IMO’s Initial Strategy on Reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions from Ships was adopted in April 2018, committing to reduce the carbon intensity emitted by shipping by at least 40% before 2030 and striving to reach 70% before 2050, as well as reducing total annual GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 50% before that year compared to 2008.
Importantly, the IMO commitments not only remain aspirational targets, but also establish a binding regulatory framework that applies to the entire fleet globally.