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Sailing towards a global carbon price in the maritime industry?

Introduction

Discussions and negotiations on carbon pricing for the international maritime sector are starting to pick up steam again at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

This is an opportunity to finally get urgently needed, meaningful global climate regulation for this international sector. The maritime sector is the last emitting sector globally not to be covered by greenhouse gas emission reduction policies. An ambitious and effective carbon price can help decarbonise this sector in line with the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. It would also support the Paris Agreement ideal that every country and sector needs to contribute to slowing down and averting the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

However, there is a significant risk that the negotiations turn into a prolonged political process that concludes with a weak and ineffective price on pollution. The recently concluded talks on short-term measures are an indication of what to expect: instead of reducing GHG emissions, governments agreed to allow shipping emissions to grow for another decade.  Ships are already responsible for approximately 3% of global climate pollution. This is a trend set to continue, rising in tandem with increased international trade in the absence of any meaningful climate action at the global level.

What should governments at the IMO (and other stakeholders) keep in mind when negotiating on pricing shipping’s significant climate impact?

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