Greenhouse gases in the Arctic

International shipping emissions contribute to global climate heating and Arctic sea ice melting. Each year, ships emit over one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, about 3% of the global annual CO2 emissions. If shipping was a country it would be the sixth biggest emitter of CO2e. The Paris Agreement requires parties to reduce all emissions ‘economy-wide’ – and shipping is not excluded. To limit heating to 1.5oC, shipping must increase efficiency by 7% annually and 77% by 2030, compared to 2008. 

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is due to adopt a proposal for urgent short-term measures which could see shipping’s already high emissions of one billion tonnes a year of CO2e rise by as much as 16% by 2030. The IMO’s greenhouse gas strategy requires international shipping to reduce emissions by at least 50% by 2050 while pursuing efforts towards phasing them out as soon as possible. It is not ambitious enough. Action is needed urgently to:

  • Align IMO ambition with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5oC goal, 
  • Reduce black carbon emissions from ships, especially those in or near the Arctic, 
  • Maximise the energy efficiency of existing ships. 

To protect the last of the Arctic summer sea ice, the IMO must adopt reduction measures to set the maritime sector’s emissions on a pathway compatible with the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping warming below 1.5oC. Full decarbonisation is needed by 2035. 

Arctic Climate Crisis: Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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