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Pacific Islands lead at the IMO again with the introduction of a carbon tax on shipping
06:22 am GMT+12, 20/04/2021, Fiji

Op- Ed by Albon Ishoda, Ambassador of Marshall Islands to Fiji
For countries like my own, the Marshall Islands, shipping is our most important link with the world, providing us with imported food, medicines, and even fossil fuels to drive our energy needs.  But shipping is also a huge contributor to the greatest threat our nations face, the growing climate crisis.  
Our micro-economies at the center of the world’s greatest ocean have the longest, thinnest, most expensive, and most vulnerable transport lines. These lifelines are almost exclusively run on fossil fuels. Maritime shipping is one of the worst climate offenders – if it were a country, the sector would be the sixth largest greenhouse gas (GHG) polluter in the world. And emissions in the sector only continue to increase: business-as-usual GHG emissions are expected to increase by up to 50% above 2018 levels by 2050.  
And so we are forced to reckon with the fact that the same shipping industry that our people and our economies rely on, is also driving the climate crisis– the greatest existential threat we face. We cannot survive without the shipping industry, and yet we also cannot survive without tackling climate change.  
This is why we must decarbonise the shipping sector as soon as possible. We need to take real action and we need to take it now.  To do that, we must put a price on shipping emissions. I’m proud that the Marshall Islands has joined with the Solomon Islands to work on this, and we welcome other Pacific and island states to join us.  
Our proposal to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is to immediately establish a GHG levy on emissions from the international shipping industry with a floor price of US$100 per ton/CO2e. This would provide both a clear signal and certainty to the market of the shipping industry’s commitment to decarbonisation efforts in line with the Paris Agreement goals.  
A GHG levy is the single most effective tool to incentivise rapid and meaningful investments in measures that can reduce emissions, like low-carbon and zero-carbon maritime fuels, wind propulsion, shoreside renewable power supplies, and increased efficiency technologies and operations. The best and fairest incentive for shippers to introduce these changes is to make it cheaper to go green than to stick with the systems and fuels that exist today – and the best way to do that is to make them pay for the pollution they emit. This gives renewable technologies the chance to compete with well-established, high-polluting fossil fuels that threaten our islands.  
Along with incentivising greener, cleaner shipping technology, finance is another important aspect of our carbon levy proposal: the majority of the revenue raised would be diverted to help climate vulnerable countries meet their climate adaptation and mitigation needs.  
The unfortunate reality we Pacific island states face is that while we are ready to take ambitious climate action, we remain dependent on financial assistance from the international community to achieve our goals. But the quality and accessibility of climate finance has to be exponentially scaled up.
While we will continue to call for immediate financial assistance to help achieve our climate change goals, our GHG levy proposal would introduce an innovative new financial stream capable of scaling up the quantity of finance required and easing access to that support to help our and other vulnerable countries achieve their adaptation and mitigation goals.  
The IMO has yet to align its GHG reduction goal with the Paris Agreement 1.5-degree Celsius temperature goal – something Pacific islands states have long been calling for. Last year, the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and the Solomon Islands were the only IMO Member States to stand up and reject a paltry GHG reduction proposal that is only expected to reduce  one percent of the sector’s business-as-usual emissions growth by 2030 . We demanded a higher ambition solution back then, but the majority of IMO member states – including many states that would tout their climate credentials – agreed to that measure. As we join the many countries calling for far greater climate ambition in advance of COP-26, we’ll be watching their decisions at the IMO carefully.  
Pacific island states have long been leaders when it comes to climate ambition in the shipping industry. Alongside Fiji, the Marshall Islands recently announced our own domestic target of a 100% decarbonisation of shipping emissions by 2050, with a 40% reduction by 2030.  We are proud to be leading with Fiji the Pacific Blue Shipping Partnership, our call for an immediate investment of US$500 million in blended financing to catalyse the shipping transition in eight Pacific island states. Just as we came together in these endeavors, we now urge other Pacific island states to join us once again in supporting this GHG levy.  
In the Marshall Islands we have a saying, “Wa kuk wa jimer” -  we are all in the same boat together. The Pacific must remain united to achieve our common goal of decarbonising our economies and adapting to the impacts of climate change. We must develop innovative solutions to help us do so.  Our proposal to IMO for an ambitious GHG levy is one..

Contact:  Kathryn Bacher


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