London — A key committee of the International Maritime Organization has agreed an initial strategy to cut the shipping industry's total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 50% from 2008 levels by 2050.
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The UN body's Marine Environment Protection Committee adopted the strategy Friday after a week-long meeting at the IMO's London headquarters.
The plan requires the industry to reach peak GHG emissions "as soon as possible" and reduce them by "at least" 50% from 2008 levels by 2050.
The strategy also requires carbon dioxide emission cuts "per transport work, as an average across international shipping" of at least 40% by 2030 and "pursuing efforts towards 70% by 2050".
Several countries had previously opposed an outright reduction of the industry's total emissions -- a more difficult measure than reducing emissions 'per transport work', as the size of the global fleet was expected to continue growing between now and 2050.
But the deal may not be radical enough for some.
The Marshall Islands and other countries had earlier argued that cuts of 100% by 2050 were the only strategy consistent with the aim of the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.
The words "at least" in the strategy may have been key to gaining the support of countries proposing tougher measures, as they allow for the possibility of toughening the cuts at a later stage.
In comments Friday morning before the MEPC adopted the strategy, IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim said the deal was a "compromise positon" that "may not be satisfactory to all".
"Please remember, this initial strategy is not a final statement but a key starting point," he said.