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Suva, 26 October, 2017: The talks at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) this week at the 2nd meeting of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of Emissions from Ships do not seem to be going well for the maritime transport sector to do its fair share in cutting Greenhouse Gas emissions under the targets of the Paris Agreement.

“The intersessional of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) taking place at the IMO headquarters in London from the 23rd to the 27th October needs to do more than just agree an initial strategy to be adopted in 2018 and a final strategy to be adopted in 2023, they need to start implementation of measures immediately,” said the PIDF Secretary General François Martel.

The Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) supports the view expressed by Mr Kitack Lim, Secretary General of the IMO, that tougher policies would be needed for emission reductions in the maritime transport sector as the industry continues to expand.

Pacific island countries are on the frontline of the impacts of climate change and now they find themselves on the frontline of the fight against the causes of climate change, including emissions arising from maritime transport. PIDF members, including Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Solomon Islands, joined by EU members and other nations including Canada and New Zealand, are leading the charge against the obstructionists in the IMO.

“Climate change is the biggest crisis facing the planet today. It is a crisis that cannot be thwarted unless every sector does its part. This includes the transport sector. We see great and rapid progress in many countries in regards to land transport. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the maritime transport sector,” Mr Martel said.

The PIDF Secretary General added, “The planet cannot afford not taking, or delaying, action on climate change. Maritime transport is responsible for as much emissions as Germany and if no action is taken now, by 2050 it would be responsible for as much emissions as the whole European Union.  Shipping greenhouse gas emissions are expected to grow by 50 to 250% by 2050. This is unacceptable!”

“With today’s technology we are in a position to start reducing emissions now. We do not have to wait for the development of technology… we have it already. Unfortunately the biggest stumbling block is the collusion between the fossil fuel producing industries, the shipping industries and certain political blocks.”

“The IMO was trusted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to take action on Maritime emissions to bring it in line with the requirements of the Paris Agreement as we strive to limit temperature rise to 1.5C compared to pre-industrial levels. It is obvious that the IMO is unable to perform this task and it has become necessary that this becomes a task for the UNFCCC,” the PIDF Secretary General said.

The Pacific Islands Development Forum suggests that countries take back control of the IMO from the industry’s influence, since with industry’s influence and as it employs obstructive tactics for any progress in negotiations to limit emissions, the IMO is incapable of bringing the necessary changes. “The dominance of the shipping industry of the IMO cannot be tolerated any longer, especially today when they are practically holding the whole planet at ransom,” concluded Mr Martel.

The intersessional meeting comes to an end on the 27th October 2017 and PIDF encourages major progress be made by the end of this meeting on this issue so crucial for the survival of the Pacific and the whole planet.