ABU DHABI, 3rd November, 2023 (WAM) — Razan Al Mubarak, President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), has called on top shipping industry representatives gathered in Abu Dhabi to join the Ocean Breakthroughs, a global marine conservation and climate action initiative that aims to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by up to 35 percent by 2050.
Al Mubarak was addressing an audience of high-level industry representatives at the World Ports Conference, which was hosted by AD Ports Group and held for the first time in the Middle East at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. She was one of three panellists taking part in the Road to COP28, a discussion of the steps taken by the shipping sector to reduce its carbon footprint ahead of the UN climate talks in Dubai later this month.
“Shipping exists at the intersection of the triple planetary crisis – climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss,” said Al Mubarak, who is also UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28 and is responsible for encouraging ambitious climate steps by subnational public bodies and commercial entities to complement the actions of the states, parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“While commitments to improving shipping’s environmental performance already exist, these efforts need to be harmonised. A sustainable, resilient maritime industry needs to consider not only how to decarbonise, but also how to deal with a multitude of other environmental, social, and socio-economic impacts.”
According to the International Energy Agency, international shipping was responsible for roughly two percent of global energy-related carbon emissions in 2022. In addition to decarbonisation—with a revised International Maritime Organisation strategy for reaching net-zero emissions from shipping by 2050, a welcome step—there is a need to “address more holistically the impact of shipping on the marine environment”, said Al Mubarak. Marine mammal strikes, underwater noise and the transfer of invasive species are three key issues to be addressed, she said.
Port operators also have an important part to play in the effort to reduce the environmental impacts of shipping. In addition, maritime infrastructure is facing increasing stress from the physical effects of climate change. For example, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused over US$2 billion in damages to ports in the Southeastern United States.
Al Mubarak was sharing the stage with Emanuele Grimaldi, chair of the International Chamber of Shipping that represents more than 80 percent of the global merchant fleet; and Captain K Subramaniam Karuppiah, chair of the International Ports and Harbours Association, an alliance of 169 port authorities and 134 port-related businesses. She called on the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Ports and Harbours Association to join the Ocean Breakthroughs launched by IUCN last month.
Resulting from the joint efforts of the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action and developed with the support of the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions, the Ocean Breakthroughs are science-based targets for five key ocean sectors. The targets for the shipping industry include upskilling 450,000 seafarers, creating climate-adapted ports and achieving at least five percent of zero-emission fuels in shipping.
“The Ocean Breakthroughs provide a rigorous, science-based framework through which to assess the impact of the maritime sector and to plan responsible action,” said Al Mubarak. “I call on the International Chamber of Shipping, the International Ports and Harbours Association and other industry players to join us in the effort of creating a sustainable, nature-positive future.”