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14 July 2008

World’s Ports Adopt Climate Declaration

Ports join hands to combat climate change and improve air quality 11 July 2008: The World Ports Climate Conference took place from 9-11 July 2008 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and was organized around the theme “World Ports for a Better Climate.”The conference brought together participants representing over 50 ports from 35 countries and concluded with the adoption of the World Port Climate Declaration, in which they committed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve air quality.

In his keynote speech to the Conference, the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, identified climate change as the “defining challenge of our era.” He highlighted the IMO’s contribution towards a cleaner atmosphere, highlighting the recent revision of the Annex on air pollution and its associated technical code to the 1973/78 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, which is to be formally adopted in October 2008 and will lead to the progressive reduction in sulfur oxide emissions from ships.

On GHG emissions from ships, he recalled that the IMO has a specific mandate, through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol, to pursue their limitation, and is currently working on setting GHG emission targets for the shipping industry, which are expected to come into effect by February 2010. In this context, he referred to the Oslo meeting of the IMO’s Working Group on GHG Emissions from Ships, which took place from 23-27 June 2008, and made progress on developing a mandatory Carbon Dioxide Design Index for ships and an interim Carbon Dioxide Operational Index. On whether the agreed GHG emission reductions should apply exclusively to Annex 1 countries or whether to all ships, no matter what flag they fly, he said the reductions should benefit the environment as a whole and must therefore apply globally to all ships, regardless of their flag. A follow-up event will take place in Los Angeles, US, in November 2008, to work out the details of this commitment, including by developing a standard method to quantify carbon dioxide emissions and a global indexing system to reward the clean and climate friendly ocean going ships, and punish the polluters. [Conference website] [Port of Rotterdam press release, 11 July 2008] [IMO Secretary-General’s Keynote Address]

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