The shipping industry's carbon neutral deadline could be reset to a flexible 'mid-century' deadline considering the national circumstances, a relaxation from the strict 2050 goal that was actively deliberated among the member states of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
The crucial 80th session of the Maritime Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the IMO is likely to reach a consensus, mostly considering the demand from the developing nations, to reset the carbon neutral goal to mid-century, with interim goals of reduction of GHG emissions 20 per cent by 2030 and 70 per cent by 2040.
"These targets seem to be achievable with a mid-century deadline, considering the national circumstances," Ajithkumar Sukumaran, Additional DG, Shipping, and an Indian delegate at the MEPC 80, told PTI.
Most of the developing nations have been lobbying for the mid-century target -- could be 2051, 2052 or 2053, insisting on not strictly fixing 2050 as the year for achieving net zero.
The shipping industry accounts for almost 3 per cent of global emissions.
Earlier, during a media interaction, the IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim had said that there were three options put forward, net zero by 2050, by mid-century considering the national circumstances, and beyond mid-century.
"Agreement is there for checkpoints, cut on total emissions by 20 per cent by 2030 over 25 per cent and 70 per cent by 2040 over 75 per cent," Lim said.
The developing nations are particular about considering the national circumstances before setting any targets for achieving net zero.
"We have to look at the impact and ensure that no decision should paralyse the industry. So we are also in favour of the mid-century target considering the national circumstances," Vusi September, Head of Corporate Affairs and Government Relations, South African Maritime Safety Authority, representing South Africa at MEPC 80, said.
He said some of the present targets put forward by the developed nations are "unrealistic" even for them to achieve.
Countries like the US, the UK, and Canada have been pressing for a 36 per cent cut in GHG emissions by 2030 and 96 per cent by 2040 with a net zero target of 2050.
The EU27 suggested a 29 per cent cut by 2030 and 83 per cent by 2040 with the deadline for net zero set at 2050.
The civil society organisations have put forward an even more ambitious target, asking IMO to cut emissions by 50 per cent in 2030 and a net zero by 2040.
"There are only two possible outcomes from these negotiations -- either member states follow the science and set a 1.5 C compatible emissions pathway or you fail to do your job here. By the way, for a 66 per cent chance of staying below 1.5 C, that's a 60 per cent cut by 2030. Anything less is not good enough," Shaama Sandooyea, a marine biologist and a climate youth activist from Mauritius, said in her maiden address at the MEPC 80.
She also urged IMO not to be on the wrong side of history as the world keenly looks at them for a proactive decision aligning with the Paris Agreement goals.
The Inter-sessional Working Group on GHG emissions is continuing its deliberations among the member states to reach a consensus on the deadlines and on interim checkpoints.
Sources said that there are still roadblocks ahead but largely the consensus is likely for the mid-century target considering the national circumstances of each country, giving them a flexible net zero goal.
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