Labour has criticised ministers for failing to include carbon emissions in their priority objectives at a meeting at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) last week.
In a parliamentary answer published on Tuesday (1 November), transport minister John Hayes said that the Government’s high level objectives for the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) 'included the agreement of a data collection system for fuel consumption, an agreement on the revision of the Ballast Water Convention type approval Guidelines, the acceptance of a proposal to designate the North Sea as a NOx emissions control area and the adoption of 2020 as the date of entry into force for a global limit on the sulphur content of fuels'.
The IMO says emissions from shipping may rise
Mr Hayes added: ‘The MEPC was a successful meeting for the UK and all objectives were met.’
Richard Burden MP, Labour’s shadow transport minister said: ‘The fact that the Government did not identify action on reducing carbon emissions is not just an embarrassing oversight, it brings in to question whether climate change is a priority at all for ministers.
‘Emissions from shipping are predicted to increase between 50-250% by 2050. If we’re serious about radically reducing emissions from international travel, the UK Government needs to be a driving force for delivering work plans for both aviation and the shipping sector. It’s why meeting climate change obligations is a key test for Labour’s conditional support on Heathrow.’
He added: ‘The aviation industry took its first steps towards that end, but the IMO are lagging behind and it is damning that the Department for Transport have allowed that to happen.’
Labour pointed out that ministers had repeatedly said over the summer that the IMO should take further steps to reduce emissions and improve the energy efficiency of ships and that Department for Transport officials were to engaging with international partners ‘to ensure that international shipping plays its part in working towards the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement’.