Kerry: U.S. seeks IMO goal of zero emissions by 2050

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Special Envoy Kerry made commitment at event organized by Ocean Conservancy

It’s official. The United States wants to set an IMO target of achieving zero-emissions from shipping by 2050. The current goal is far less ambitious.

The commitment was made by Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry yesterday at the “How Ocean-Based Solutions Contribute to Net Zero” event, organized by Ocean Conservancy and the U.N. Foundation.

Here’s what Special Envoy Kerry said:

“In support of the global effort to keep within reach the 1.5 degree C limit on global average temperature increase, and in support of global efforts to achieve net zero greenhouse emissions no later than 2050, the United States is committing to work with countries in the International Maritime Organization to adopt a goal of achieving zero emissions from international shipping by 2050, and to adopt ambitious measures that will place the sector on a pathway to achieve this goal.”

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry


The reference to “ambitious measures” mentioned by Special Envoy Kerry could be an indication that the U.S. might support the market-based measures being sought by shipping organizations as a means of funding a massive decarbonization R&D fund.

“Committing to reaching zero emissions from the shipping industry by 2050 is a great first step and a huge improvement over previous commitments,” commented Dan Hubbell, shipping emissions campaign manager at Ocean Conservancy. “The International Maritime Organization previously set a goal of reaching at least 50% emissions reductions from the shipping industry by 2050, which is insufficient to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We are also far off course from reaching even those goals at present. This announcement today provides fresh wind in our sails, and we look forward to working with the U.S. and other countries to help scale up zero-carbon technologies and port infrastructure to help reach the 2050 vision Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry announced. The next key step to take would be including shipping and other ocean-based climate solutions in the U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution. We also hope to see a more ambitious timeline of eliminating shipping emissions here in the U.S. specifically by 2035.”

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