The global shipping industry is finally going to cut its climate change emissions

Member nations of the United Nations body charged with regulating shipping on the high seas adopted a first-ever strategy Friday to blunt the sector's large contribution to climate change - bringing another major constituency onboard in the international quest to cap the planet's warming well below an increase of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

The strategy embraced by a committee of the International Maritime Organization would lower emissions from container ships, oil tankers, bulk carriers and other vessels by at least 50 percent by the year 2050, versus where they stood in the year 2008. The group also said that emissions from shipping should reach a peak, and begin to decline, as soon as possible.

"IMO remains committed to reducing GHG emissions from international shipping and, as a matter of urgency, aims to phase them out as soon as possible in this century," the group said.

Shipping in recent years has been responsible for around 800 million tons annually of carbon dioxide emissions, according to Dan Rutherford, the marine program director of the International Council on Clean Transportation, who was in attendance for the deliberations in London this week. That means shipping's emissions are 2.3 percent of the global total.

"If you counted it as a country, it would be the sixth largest source of CO2 emissions," said Rutherford, noting that 800 million tons of annual emissions is comparable to emissions from the nation of Germany.

And ships, by burning heavy fue....

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