Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
China has urged poorer countries to oppose a levy on shipping emissions and stronger targets for decarbonising one of the world’s most polluting industries, criticising wealthy nations for setting “unrealistic” goals with “significant” financial costs.
According to the Financial Times, Beijing distributed a “diplomatic note” to developing nations as they prepared for a critical meeting at the UN’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in July, according to four people present at IMO discussions.
China’s comments are coming days after France rallied 22 allies behind a shipping emissions levy.
“An overly ambitious emission reduction target will seriously impede the sustainable development of international shipping, significantly increase the cost of the supply chain and will adversely impede the recovery of the global economy,” China stated in the document.
It added: “Developed countries are pushing the IMO to reach unrealistic visions and levels of ambition. (They are advocating) a flat (levy that) will lead to a significant increase in maritime transport costs.”
The efforts by China, the world’s biggest exporter which also has a large state-owned shipping industry, have deepened concerns over a lack of progress on decarbonising a fuel-intensive sector that delivers up to 90 per cent of traded goods globally, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
By the end of next week the IMO has committed to strengthening its ambition, which has long been criticised by environmental campaigners as weak, to halve annual shipping emissions from their 2008 levels by 2050.
But participants in the talks at the IMO said China had helped to rally countries in closed-door negotiations that had become deeply divided between developed and developing member states.
Brazil, Argentina and South Africa have also opposed a levy on shipping companies’ emissions, which they fear would increase the cost of exports for their large commodities markets, according to two people close to the discussions.
According to the note seen by the FT, China called for any revenues generated by IMO regulations to be invested “in-sector”, arguing that wider use of these funds would transfer “the climate change financing responsibility from developed countries to . . . international shipping.”