Pacific nations keep fossil-free shipping goal alive in London

Left to right: Tuvalu's Minister for Transport, Energy and Tourism, Nielu Mesake, Kiribati Minister for Information, Communications and Transport, Tekeeua Tarati, IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim, Vanuatu's Climate Change and Environment Minister, Ralph Regenvanu, and Marshall Islands Special Envoy at IMO, Albon Ishoda at the IMO Headquarters in London. July 2023. Photo: 6PAC

Pacific nations’ push for the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to align the sea transportation sector to the Paris Agreement goal and keep 1.5 degrees alive is a step closer, but only just.

This week, a group of Pacific islands – known as the 6-PAC – rallied the UN’s regulating arm for shipping to raise its ambition to make the industry fossil fuel-free.

The Marshall Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Tonga, and Solomon Islands, the original 6PAC, plus Vanuatu, Samoa and Nauru proposed science-based cuts to emissions and a carbon levy.

On Thursday, the IMO agreed on a revised strategy for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships which is expected to be adopted on Friday UK time.

Marshall Islands Special Envoy to the IMO, Albon Ishoda, told RNZ Pacific there have been “a lot of compromises and a lot of consensus”.

“Everyone across the board had to make [compromises] to ensure that, at the very least, we are keeping 1.5 degrees celsius within reach,” Ishoda said.

The shipping industry transports almost 90 percent of the world’s goods and is a major polluter for the environment. For the Pacific, between 80 and 90 percent of all imports are via sea transport.

Experts say it is out of line on climate change and needs to make significant reduction to its emissions to align with the Paris Agreement 1.5 degrees target.

Ishoda said the Pacific has fought a hard battle at the meeting.

He said the 6-PAC negotiators stood their ground against the bigger and powerful nations during the IMO’s 80th Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting.

“I think tomorrow (Friday, UK time) we are walking away with something not perfect, but absolutely a step in the right direction.”

However, climate campaigners have already raised concerns and say the strategy lacks ambition.

Pacific delegates from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, and Nauru at the IMO's climate summit in London. 6 July 2023

Pacific delegates from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, and Nauru at the IMO’s climate summit in London. 6 July 2023 Photo: RNZ Pacific / Kelvin Anthony

Source: RNZ