Cutting shipping emissions could raise billions to help fight climate change

Published: 26th September 2010

The shipping industry can do more to tackle climate change and raise billions of dollars to help poor countries cope with its devastating impact said international agency Oxfam ahead of a major meeting of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) starting in London today.

Oxfam is calling for government officials and shipping experts of the IMO – the international shipping regulators – to consider measures to reduce uncapped and rising shipping emissions, while at the same time raising more than $10 billion per year in new climate cash through the auctioning of emission permits. Progress here would bring the world closer to raising the $100 billion per year pledged by rich countries at last year’s UN climate talks to help poor countries protect themselves from the impacts of climate change and develop in a low carbon way.

Tim Gore, Oxfam’s EU climate change policy advisor said, “This is a unique opportunity for shipping to become less of a source and more of a solution to the climate crisis. The industry could give vulnerable communities a significant helping hand in the fight against climate change by both controlling a major – and rising – source of global greenhouse gas emissions and generating desperately needed cash so they can cope with its devastating effects.

“Shipping plays a vital role in keeping the wheels of global trade moving. The International Maritime Organization could implement a fair scheme to control emissions, that won’t penalize trade from developing countries and will provide some of the vital resources needed to tackle climate change.”

The IMO is meeting just ahead of the next round of UN climate talks in China (4th–9th October) and the last gathering of the Advisory Group on Finance (AGF), which was established to identify ways to raise the $100 billion per year pledged at Copenhagen. The group’s recommendations are due to be published in October.

Gore said: “Despite the continuing global recession rich governments can raise the billions required to help poor countries cope with climate change without dipping into their cash strapped budgets. The shipping industry can’t do it alone, but it can be part of a package of innovative finance-raising measures including those addressing uncapped emissions from international shipping and aviation, a Robin Hood Tax on financial transactions and re-direction of rich-country fossil fuel subsidies.

“No stone should be left unturned in the search for new climate cash and the shipping industry must play its part to raise tens of billions for a new UN climate fund ensuring poor communities get the resources they need.”

Read more

Slideshow:Oxfam's "Beachwatch" stunt at the International Maritime Organization meeting

Watch the video: Post-Copenhagen: What next for Oxfam's Climate Change Campaign

Download the report: Climate Finance Post-Copenhagen: The $100 billion questions

Read the blog: Innovative financing is gaining support

Take action: Join Oxfam's Climate Change Campaign

This is a unique opportunity for shipping to become less of a source and more of a solution to the climate crisis.
Tim Gore
Oxfam’s EU climate change policy advisor

Notes to editors

Photo opportunity for picture desks – Oxfam campaigners will be demonstrating outside the IMO building in London from 0815–0900 on Monday 27th September.


  • Emissions from the shipping sector have doubled since 1990 and the upward trend is predicted to continue at a rate of 2.5 per cent per year.
  • Mid-range emissions scenarios show that, by 2050, in the absence of policies, ship emissions may grow by 150% to 250% (compared to the emissions in 2007) as a result of the growth in shipping.
  • The global shipping sector was responsible for 847 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2007 – this is higher than Germany's output of CO2 from fossil fuels
  • In 2005, international shipping was responsible for nearly six times more CO2 emissions than rail transport.

(all stats from IMO GHG emissions study 2009)

Background on the IMO

  • The IMO is a specialized agency of the UN that governs international standards to regulate the shipping industry. Members are gathering for a five-day meeting from Monday 27th September to Friday October 1st. Among other agenda items, the meeting will consider an internal expert report into possible mechanisms to control greenhouse gas emissions and raise revenues which could be used as climate finance.
  • While targets for emissions reductions from international shipping may be agreed in the UNFCCC, ultimately any mechanism to deliver the reductions will need to be designed in and implemented by the IMO.

Contact information

For interviews, photographs and more details please contact:

Georgette Ginn, Oxfam press office on +44 (0)1865 472037 / +44 (0)7824 503108,