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IPCC Working Group III: the role of the shipping industry in mitigation processes

07.04.22

The UN International Panel on Climate Change, better known as IPCC, has released yesterday its Working Group III report on the state of climate change mitigation. Signed by 278 authors and 195 governments, it’s the most comprehensive review of climate change mitigation since the last assessment in 2014. The findings of the research area are clear: better climate management of aviation and the shipping industry would be a great ally in reducing greenhouse emissions. The report also argues that to so do, an improvement of governance structures is needed, especially in implementing stricter standards for the sectors considered.

At this moment, the general belief is that IMO is the only possible channel for global shipping regulation, therefore leaving aside nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement or climate laws in the sector. However, the IMO is currently under pressure from many different fronts. On one side, NGOs have repeatedly been criticizing IMO’s inefficiency in meeting the Paris Agreement’s standards. On the other, the European Union is putting in place its own plans to cut down shipping emissions. The UK, China and the US are likely to take inspiration from Europe if their plans turn out to be successful.

The IPCC report, examining current trends and future projections, points out how efficiency improvements, like mass reduction or optimised designs, can actually play a part in mitigation processes. Nonetheless, the authors also highlight how further CO2 mitigation strategies need to be put in place. To name a few, the IPCC suggests alternative fuels like low-emission hydrogen, whereas electrification seems to be playing a niche role for shortsea shipping.