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GSF brings transparency to shipping emissions debate at first AGM

The National Industrial Transformation League hosted the first Annual General Meeting of the Global Shippers’ Forum since its formal incorporation earlier this year. Over 50 delegates with shippers’ organisations from North and South America, Australasia, Asia, Europe and Africa attended the meeting. At a press conference the pan-global trade organisation for shippers unveiled its first annual report, setting out a packed policy agenda; a top priority being to avoid the threat of an ineffective approach to tackling maritime greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions which could leave shippers footing the bill of up to $20 billion a year.

One of the most pressing concerns facing shippers continues to be how to tackle ghg emissions without reducing competitiveness and restricting world trade. GSF today launched its ‘Maritime emissions briefing note’, to bring much-needed clarity and transparency to the decarbonising maritime shipping debate.

Chris Welsh, Secretary General of GSF, said:

"Despite being a comparatively carbon efficient way of moving goods, the emissions contribution from maritime shipping is set to increase threefold by 2050 if left unchecked. But we have to be really careful that we tackle this challenge firstly in a way that works to limit emissions and secondly in a way which doesn’t hinder world trade at a time when economies around the world are feeling the pressure.

"One such proposal, effectively an international ghg compensation fund, could potentially increase global freight rates by five per cent and effectively land industry with an annual bill which would be enough to pay off a quarter of Greece’s debt."

Other proposals include a cap and trade scheme (favoured by the UK, Norway, France and Germany), a hybrid scheme based on the International Maritime Organisation’s Energy Efficiency Design Index, a rebate mechanism and a port-based scheme.

Welsh concluded:
"The array of proposals on the table all have their strengths and weaknesses, but the significance of getting this wrong means that governments and industry have to be 100 per cent clear of the implications of each proposal. This is why transparency is so important.

"We also need an approach that will encourage industry to use technical and operational efficiency measures to make reductions rather than simply opting for a financial mechanism, such as a carbon tax.

"Whether the solution is found via a global emissions cap and trade scheme or, ideally, through a voluntary approach based on existing models for measuring and reducing carbon emissions, the solution must be fair and equitable and be dealt with on a global basis as a consequence of the international nature of maritime shipping."

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