A battle is under way to force the global shipping industry to play its part in tackling climate change.
A meeting of the International Maritime Organisation in London next week will face demands for shipping to radically reduce its CO2 emissions.
If shipping doesn’t clean up, it could contribute almost a fifth of the global total of CO2 by 2050.
A group of nations led by Brazil, Saudi Arabia, India, Panama and Argentina is resisting CO2 targets for shipping.
Their submission to the meeting says capping ships’ overall emissions would restrict world trade. It might also force goods on to less efficient forms of transport.
Trade and prosperity
The UK is supported by other European nations in a proposal to shrink shipping emissions by 70%-100% of their 2008 levels by 2050.
Guy Platten from the UK Chamber of Shipping said: “We call on the global shipping industry to get behind these proposals – not just because it is in their interests to do so, but because it is the right thing to do.
“The public expects us all to take action, they understand that international trade brings prosperity, but they rightly demand it is conducted in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. We must listen to those demands, and the time for action is now.”
A spokesman said: “The Paris temperature goals are absolute objectives. They are not conditional on whether the global economy thinks they are achievable or not.”
So the pressure is on the IMO to produce an ambitious policy. The EU has threatened that if the IMO doesn’t move far enough, the EU will take over regulating European shipping. That would see the IMO stripped of some of its authority.
A spokesman for the Panamanian government told BBC News his nation supports the Paris Agreement.
Campaigners say huge improvements in CO2 emissions from existing ships can be easily be made by obliging them to travel more slowly. They say a carbon pricing system is needed.
International shipping produces about 1,000 million tonnes of CO2 annually – that’s more than the entire German economy.