Durban, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 30 November 2011 – International climate negotiators are at odds here on how to raise billions of dollars to help poor countries cope with global warming. A major shipping group is willing to help, endorsing a proposal for a carbon tax on vessels carrying the world’s trade.
Details of the tussle over funding emerged as the United Nations weather agency reported that 2011 had been marked as the 10th hottest year since records began in 1850. Arctic sea ice, a barometer for the entire planet, had shrunk to a record low volume, said the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
Putting the final touches on what’s known as the Green Climate Fund is a top issue at the 192-party UN climate conference here, and one of the keys of a strategy to contain greenhouse gas emissions and keep global warming within manageable limits.
The two-week conference is to finalise a plan on managing climate finances, due to scale up to US$100 billion annually by 2020.
The International Chamber of Shipping, representing about 80% of the world’s merchant marine, joined forces with aid groups Oxfam and WWF International to urge the conference to adopt guidelines for a levy on carbon emissions by ships.
Details of any levy would be worked out by the International Maritime Organisation, the UN agency regulating international shipping, the aid groups and the chamber, said in a joint statement.
“Shipping has to take responsibility for the emissions and get to grips and drive them down, and they see that the best way to do that it to have a universal charge applied to all ships that is going to generate billions of dollars" to fight climate change,” Tim Gore of Oxfam said on the sidelines of the climate conference.
About 50 000 cargo ships carry 90% of world trade, and most ships are powered by heavily polluting oil known as bunker fuels. Last July the UN maritime organisation decided that new cargo vessels must meet energy efficiency standards and cut pollution. It was the first climate change measure to apply equally to countries regardless of whether they are from the industrialised or developing world.