Over 170 countries, comprising India, on Friday reached a historic agreement in London to reduce shipping carbon dioxide emissions by "at least" 50 per cent on 2008 levels by 2050 with an emphasis on scaling up action to 100 per cent by the mid-century.
The decision, arrived at after two weeks of intense negotiations at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), sends a clear signal to the industry and investors that a clear switch away from fossil fuels is now on the cards.
Meeting the target means that in the 2030s, most newly built ocean-going vessels will run on zero carbon renewable fuels, say experts.
Ships, which transport over 80 per cent of global trade, will become free from fossil fuels by then.
While a few specific objections were made, even the countries with the most ships registered to them supported the deal and only two countries opposed the text outright, an expert, who was part of the negotiations, told IANS.
"The IMO's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 100 per cent in 2050 is major progress," Tristan Smith, Reader in Energy and Shipping with the UCL Energy Institute, said in a statement.
"The world's shipping industry has now, for the first time, defined its commitment to tackle climate change, bringing it closer in-line with the Paris Agreement."
John Maggs, President of the Clean Shipping Coalition and senior policy advisor, Seas At Risk, said: "We have an important agreement, and this level of ambition will ultimately require a sector-wide shift to new fuels and propulsion technologies, but what happens next is crucial.
"The IMO must move swiftly to introduce measures that will cut emissions deeply and quickly in the short-term. Without these the goals of the Paris agreement will remain out of reach."
Even the OECD's International Transport Forum (ITF), with 59 member countries including India, in a report released on March 27 talked about decarbonising maritime transport by 2035.
Zero emission from shipping by 2035 was the most ambitious proposal on the table at the IMO, made by the climate-vulnerable Marshall Islands and allies.
This report, therefore, directly undercuts the arguments made by Japan that only 50 per cent decarbonisation much later by 2060 is technically feasible.
The main driver for the growth of global shipping emissions is the rise of international trade, projected to almost double by 2035 and growing at a rate of approximately three per cent per year until 2050.
The share of export values from Europe might be reduced to 26 per cent of the global export flows in 2035, compared to 33 per cent in 2015.
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