Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), who represents the Port of Long Beach, one of the nation’s busiest ports, will introduce a bill during National Oceans Month aimed at zeroing out pollution from all ocean shipping companies that do business with the U.S. The bill aims to clean up the shipping industry, protect the health of port communities, address environmental injustice, and provide solutions to the climate crisis. If ocean shipping were a country, it would be the sixth largest producer of climate pollution.
“I have worked to clean up the maritime industry for my whole career, dating back to my earliest days on the Long Beach City Council,” Congressman Lowenthal said. “This bill continues that struggle. We must face the fact that we are at a tipping point in the climate crisis; we must move beyond fossil fuels, including in ocean shipping. For too long, the federal government has turned a blind eye to the immense pollution created by the shipping industry and failed to create regulations to clean up the industry.” We have made progress, but communities like mine still suffer under the impacts of shipping on their air, oceans, climate, and health. The technology now exists to end port pollution and clean up the shipping industry.”
This week from June 6 to 10, leaders of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) are meeting in London to discuss regulations for shipping, and how to decarbonize the sector. The MEPC’s responsibility is to address environmental issues like the control and prevention of ship-source pollution, including oil, chemicals carried in bulk, sewage, garbage and emissions from ships, including air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions.
At almost 1 billion tons of climate pollution per year, the shipping industry emits roughly the same as all the coal plants in the U.S. combined. The sector could account for 17-18% of all global emissions by 2050 if corrective policies are not put in place. The International Maritime Organization, the United Nations agency that regulates shipping, has set a goal of cutting shipping emissions by at least 50% below 2008 levels by 2050; however, the IMO’s strategy is not aligned with achieving the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global average temperature increase to 1.5-degrees C to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Coming legislation will work to close that gap.