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IMO stalls decision on shipping emissions

cargoship.jpgThere’s an update over at Nature News on efforts to get a regulatory handle on carbon dioxide emissions from the shipping industry. I noted last month, when the International Maritime Organization was taking criticism for not moving faster on the issue, that an IMO official had said a July meeting might come up with ideas.

No such luck. The meeting wrapped up last week, and though progress was made on regulating pollutants that harm air quality, the issue of climate went unresolved. Although ships emit a variety of greenhouse gases, CO2 is the main culprit, outweighing other sources by almost ten-thousand-fold.

The accusation in June was that the IMO should have taken control of ships’ carbon footprints – a duty assigned to them by the Kyoto protocol – well before the Copenhagen conference. Coming to the IMO’s defense, an industry representative says they’ll find it easier to do it after December:

“The fact that the IMO cannot come to such agreement this year doesn’t mean in any way that it’s somehow hopeless,” says Bryan Wood-Thomas, vice-president for environmental policy at the World Shipping Council, a trade group that represents about 90% of the cargo-container shipping industry. “Quite to the contrary, I think it will arrive at an agreement in the next year and a half,” he says — once countries assess whether the results of the Copenhagen meeting change the context of the IMO’s climate negotiations.

But if the IMO doesn’t make this switch from crawl to sprint, the European Commission has said it will impose regulations on its own. The full article has more details.

Anna Barnett

Image: Flickr user “helmuts”, Creative Commons license

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