Pacific Islands advocate for carbon pricing on shipping


Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands demanded a price on shipping pollution from the United Nations, but only received lukewarm support from European countries

Pacific island countries pleaded Wednesday for a carbon price to tackle the climate impact of shipping with the United Nations body responsible for shipping, but found only lukewarm support.

At a meeting of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) environmental committee, the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands jointly proposed a carbon price of $ 100 per tonne on bunker fuels.

Major emerging economies mainly opposed the measure and principle of a carbon tax, while European countries supported carbon pricing in one form or another, but did not approve the specific proposal. The United States was neutral on the subject.

Marshall Islands Ambassador to IMO Albon Ishoda told Climate Home News: “There is clearly a division at IMO as to who is ready to move forward proactively and those who prefer to delay at all costs. “

One of the only countries to directly support the proposal was Tonga. Its representative said it was “the only measure proposed so far that can achieve 1.5 ° C alignment and just transition”, referring to the most ambitious global warming limit in the Agreement. Paris.

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European countries like France, the Netherlands, Italy and Finland have said the $ 100 tax should be considered by a task force set up by the IMO on medium and long-term measures for reduce emissions.

Climate Home News understands that developed countries see the price as too high and are worried about how the funds raised will be spent.

When asked if $ 100 was too high, Ishoda told Climate Home News: “The science is clear that $ 100 / t is the minimum floor, not the ceiling, needed now to send a clear and unequivocal signal. at the market.”

He added: “Obviously, it will need to be reviewed and increased quickly enough to close the price differential between fossil fuels and alternatives. But the price change with a $ 100 tax is fine in the price fluctuations of existing fuels. “

The world’s largest container shipping company, Maersk, has called for a $ 150 shipping fuel tax to steer the industry toward green alternatives.

Larger developing countries like China, South Africa and Saudi Arabia – along with Russia – have said they are concerned about a carbon tax.

The world’s largest shipping registry, Panama, has argued that a carbon tax could increase transportation costs, endanger food security and hurt the economy.

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The representative of Vanuatu argued that an increase in the cost of fuel and transport would be passed on to consumers. This would have a disproportionate impact on small island developing States.

Albon Ishoda told Climate Home News: “In the vast majority of cases, the increase in freight transport for most goods and cargo is very marginal.”

However, he said, “in a narrow range of cases, especially for countries like mine, there is a risk of disproportionate negative impact and this will require a mechanism to compensate for these situations.

“But we need to address these issues alongside the development of the measure. As we keep saying, we are out of time.

The proposal will be reviewed in November. The next meeting was also accompanied by a more modest proposal, supported by the shipping industry trade association and several states, for a tax of $ 2 per tonne of fuel to fund research and development of clean maritime transport technologies. This translates into a carbon price of $ 0.64 / t.

Most developing countries opposed it while many countries in Europe and the Pacific argued that it was a distraction from pricing carbon at a level high enough to encourage l adoption of cleaner fuels and technologies.

The IMO has agreed on a set of short-term measures to reduce the carbon intensity of ships by 2% each year between 2023 and 2026.

This represents an 11% improvement in efficiency between 2019 and 2026. The US, UK and most European countries wanted an improvement of at least 22%.

Faig Abbasov, an activist for maritime transport and the environment, called the IMO decision “blatant”, “cosmetic” and “greenwashing”.

According to the analysis of the International Council on Clean Transportation, this trajectory is no better than the status quo. To be compatible with a global warming limit of 1.5 ° C, an annual reduction of 6 to 7% in carbon intensity is necessary.

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