UN shipping regulator needs a transformational new leader

The Clean Shipping Coalition (CSC) has written to the candidates for this summer’s election of a new International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Secretary General to see if they understand the urgency of the climate crisis and have the determination and strength of vision to be a transformational new leader of the IMO.

Mr Dominguez from Panama, Capt. Ahmed from Bangladesh, Dr Doumbia-Henry from Dominica, Mrs Karigithu from Kenya, Ms Kivimäki from Finland, Mr Aka from Türkiye, and Mr Zhang from China are vying for the IMO’s top job at arguably the most existential point for humanity.

If the successful candidate is in post for the customary two terms, they will oversee the IMO for an 8-year period during which the IPCC says emissions globally must be cut in half.

International shipping currently emits around a billion tonnes of CO2 each year, a contribution to the climate crisis similar in size to the whole of Japan or Germany’s emissions, and projections are for this to grow.

In the letter, which was sent individually to each candidate, CSC seeks assurances from the candidates that they are committed to keeping shipping climate heating emissions below levels that would risk climate tipping points and avoid breaching the critical 1.5C heating limit.

With the IMO about to revise its GHG Strategy and set new levels of climate ambition for the shipping sector, CSC is particularly interested in the candidates position in respect to short-term climate action and the need to cut emissions deeply before 2030.

The IPCC says absolute emissions must halve by 2030; an IPCC-aligned decarbonisation trajectory for the maritime industry (the Science-Based Targets initiative) says they must fall 36% by 2030 (and 96% by 2040).

With the shipping industry burning more than 10% of its 1.5C carbon budget every year, a level of ambition only for 2050, even if it is zero by 2050, would guarantee that shipping fails to contribute its fair share to efforts to tackle the climate crisis and would seriously undermine global climate efforts.

The IMO will elect its new Secretary General at a Council Meeting on 17-21 July, and we call on all candidates to make clear which of them is the transformational leader the IMO needs now!

The letter can be read here:

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