Echoes from Durban: shipping industry to submit to a carbon tax?

Echoes from Durban: shipping industry to submit to a carbon tax?

By Elodie Jacquet

November 29, 2011

As I stare out of our windows here at the SFU Harbour Centre, I can see countless cargo ships entering or leaving Burrard Inlet. Living in a port city means being a gateway to maritime routes. Did you know that shipping was actually responsible for 3% of the world’s total carbon emissions? A drop in the ocean you might say… But even a drop can have a huge impact.

Today, at COP17, Oxfam, WWF and the International Chamber of Shipping (which represents over 80% of the world merchant fleet) called on delegates to COP 17 to give the International Maritime Organization (IMO) clear guidance on continuing its work on reducing shipping emissions through the development of Market Based Measures (MBMs).

The organisations maintain that an effective regulatory framework for curbing emission of CO2 from international shipping must be global in nature and designed so as to reduce the possibility of ‘carbon leakage’, while taking full account of the best interests of developing countries and the UNFCCC principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities’ (CBDR).

This includes the possibility of the adoption by IMO of a compensation mechanism through which a significant share of any revenues collected from international shipping could be directed to developing countries and provide a new source of finance to support their efforts to tackle climate change. Such revenues could be directed through an appropriate channel, such as the Green Climate Fund, which will be discussed by governments in Durban.

After the recent loss of yet another ship off the coast of New Zealand and the sad consequences of the pollution that ensued, it is comforting to see that the industry is actually taking a leadership role in self-regulating and participating in the future of the Green Climate Fund. As states stumble on the hurdles of negotiating a global binding agreement on climate change, would the fate of COP17 lay in the hands of industries and corporations (many of which have been vilified for their role in lobbying against any global agreement on carbon emissions reduction)?

Tonight, while I take my usual stroll along the beaches of English Bay, I’ll watch the twinkling lights of the tankers and cargos anchored in the bay with a renewed sense of hope.

(Icon photo courtesy of Elodie Jacquet)

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