Pacific Island nations were central to pushing a deal that was struck by more than 170 countries at the International Maritime Organisation last week to halve emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.
Scientific and technical advisor at the University of the South Pacific Peter Nuttall said it is now up to the Pacific to take a leading role in the modernisation of the shipping industry.
“What is undeniable about that agreement that was reached last week is that there is about to be a revolution in shipping. We saw this revolution happen when sails changed to coal. We saw it again when coal changed to oil. We’ve seen it with the change in LNG and with nuclear power.
“This is the opportunity for the Pacific to re-equip the shipping fleet with modern vessels that are appropriate to our small island conditions.”
Following the meeting Dr Nuttall said Pacific nations needed to make sure they remain at the forefront of the process to reduce emissions.
“This is the initial strategy, the final strategy isn’t due until 2023. And the debate becomes increasingly technical. What technologies, what instruments, what market-based measures, operational measures, technology, you know new-build.
“So it’s going to be very difficult, but the Pacific must maintain a consolidated participation throughout the process over the next five years.”
The agreement came at the end of a week-long meeting of the International Maritime Organisation, a United Nations body, in London, where small countries were pitted against large shipping nations that were against such restrictions.
The IMO’s Secretary General, Kitack Lim, hailed the agreement as a “successful illustration of a spirit of-co-operation,” while Pacific leaders called it historic.