Shipping industry calls for global tax on its own carbon emissions

3 May 2021

The shipping industry is calling for a global tax to help reduce carbon emissions across the industry.

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and others, which together make up more than 90% of the global shipping industry, aim to incentivise the development and widespread use of new green technologies that will help tackle its growing carbon emissions.

Shipping contributes about 2.5% of the world’s total carbon emissions, which puts it barely behind aviation as a major carbon emitter. A market-based measure, like tax, could help the shipping industry reach their decarbonisation targets by incentivising the switch to cleaner fuels and waste-heat recovery systems.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO), which regulates the shipping industry on behalf of the UN, has adopted mandatory measures to reduce CO2 emissions reduce CO2 per transport work by at least 40% by 2030, leading to 70% by 2050, compared to 2008.

But the IMO targets have been criticised by many within the shipping industry itself for their 'lack of green ambition'. The ICS has joined calls for a global carbon tax solution to raise incentives for shipping companies to invest in cleaner technologies for shipping. Secretary-general at the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), Gerald Platten, told the BBC: “It’s complex, it needs to be a global solution, and not regional solutions, as has been mooted by various places around the world. So that’s why we’re calling for this discussion to start now.”

The Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) warns that the failure to innovate, whether by implementing new tax policy or by applying more direct measures, will leave the shipping industry responsible for up to 20% of global carbon emissions by 2050. In a recent report, the IMechE argue that retrofitting cargo ships with state-of-the-art sails could slash the industry’s carbon emissions by as much as 40%.

Solutions to the shipping industry’s growing emissions problem are nearly as diverse as they are in-demand. More information on this issue is available at here.