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Developing Countries Torpedo Plans for Cutting Carbon Emissions from Ships

The NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) reports that developing countries, led by China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Saudi Arabia, have blocked what would have been the first global agreement to cut carbon emissions from ships.

The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) had been set to approve an Energy Efficient Design Index (EEDI) for ships at its meeting last week in London, following four years of work, T&E said.

The standard, which would only apply to newly built ships, would have been the first globally agreed measure to reduce carbon emissions from international maritime transport. However, the developing states blocked the adoption process at a late Friday session of the IMO MEPC last week.

Fuel efficiency standards are key to cutting greenhouse gas emissions across the transport sector. It’s extremely disappointing to see such an obvious win-win policy blocked by a handful of short-sighted countries. Some developing countries appear to be worried about setting a precedent whereby a climate-related policy affects all countries equally. But that’s a missed opportunity because developing countries will benefit just as much as developed countries from ships that use less fuel.

—Bill Hemmings, T&E

The question of how to proceed with the design index is likely to be considered again at IMO’s next session in mid 2011 but last week’s failure to agree is a major setback to global agreement on the issue, T&E said.

The IMO’s efforts to develop a trading system to cut greenhouse gas emissions were also frustrated at last week’s meeting. Experts had analysed alternatives over the summer and come up with three key options: a global fund, emissions trading and the trading of efficiency credits based on the now-delayed design index.

The IMO will hold a special session to consider these issues further but discussions at last week’s meeting suggest developing countries will continue to frustrate progress by debating at length legal and political issues already studied by the experts, such as compatibility with the UNFCCC process and world trade rules.



Another case where positioning the correction as an energy/pollution saving action would have succeeded. The fix now is simple. Require marine transport systems to burn/emit low carbon fuel/particulates in domestic ports. Major ports already demand freighters use shore power rather than onboard gensets.

Emerging nations do not care about climate. They care about revenue and growth. Since marine transport must deliver to domestic ports - demand they meet local emission/fuel standards. They will do what is necessary to keep delivering to western seaports.

The fix now is simple. Require marine transport systems to burn/emit low carbon fuel/particulates in domestic ports.
This doesn't affect net carbon emissions much. I know you deny AGW, but the irony of "developing" nations demanding the West cut output while expanding their own is thick enough to cut with a knife.
Emerging nations do not care about climate.
Nations based on islands (e.g. Fiji) or river deltas (Bangladesh) aren't as cavalier about the issue as you are.

"developing countries will continue to frustrate progress"

This does not say all developing countries. In logic, when you use words like never, always, none, all, it only takes one case to disprove the assertion.


EP - I agree that developing nations emitting while demanding West to cut is... ironic. Air pollution over Hong Kong is now consistently dangerous due to mainland factory and transportation emissions. It is only getting worse.

As for sea level. We have seen no rise outside natural variability. The fear of ice melting is insubstantial. 90 percent of all ice on Earth resides in Antarctic. The main continent shows regular growth since start of satellite records (1979) - on the order of 4-5 percent (NASA). Only the western extreme shows melting beyond norms. Main continent is 400% larger than the West extremes.

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