Biden vows to tackle shipping emissions

A change in occupancy of the White House next year is likely to see the US become far more engaged with the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) decarbonisation drive.

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The IMO’s Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships is meeting this week ahead of next month’s Marine Environment Protection Committee virtual gathering next month, where important short-term greenhouse gas cutting measures are set to be deliberated, albeit with the US unlikely to be a driving force for change.

Under President Donald Trump, the US has stepped back from many international institutions and agreements in recent years.

However, his challenger for the presidency in next month’s election, Joe Biden, is determined to put the US back on the international green map.

Under the so-called Biden Plan, the environmental agenda laid out by the Democrat nominee, there is a call to lead the world “to lock in enforceable international agreements to reduce emissions in global shipping and aviation”.

Reading into this commitment on social media, Dan Rutherford, from the Washington DC-based International Council on Clean Transportation, suggested, “This would imply a dramatic shift in how the US engages with the IMO next year.” The Biden Plan contains little else specific to shipping.

Those in aviation however need to be aware of his plans. Biden has said he will pursue measures to incentivise the creation of new, sustainable fuels for aircraft, as well as other changes to aircraft technology and standards, and air traffic management.

Among other key environmental pledges made by the 77-year-old, Biden has said his administration would re-enter the Paris Agreement on day one and lead a major diplomatic push to raise the ambitions of countries’ climate targets. With 15 days to go until the US election, Biden has a commanding lead in the national polls, although voting is set to be close in the key swing states.