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A Just and Equitable Transition in the Shipping Industry

The UN Foundation and University College London (UCL)

December 8th (15.30-16.30)

Oceans Pavilion in the Blue Zone

Ambassador Albon's Keynote Speech at COP28

ambassador-albon-cop28-speechLadies and gentlemen, distinguished guests,

Today, I stand before you to share the ambitious vision of the Republic of the Marshall Islands—an island nation that has long been at the forefront of the global fight against climate change. Our ambition is clear: to achieve the 1.5-degree Celsius agenda, and in doing so, protect our fragile environment, our culture, and our very way of life.

The Marshall Islands is acutely aware of the existential threat that climate change poses to our existence. Rising sea levels, more intense storms, and changing weather patterns are not abstract concepts for us; they are our daily reality. We have witnessed the encroachment of the ocean on our shores, and we have felt the devastating impact of climate-related disasters. We are a Small Island Developing State, and we have no choice but to be at the forefront of this battle.

Our commitment to the 1.5-degree Celsius target is unwavering. We understand that limiting global warming to this level is not just a matter of policy; it is a matter of survival. To achieve this goal, we have put forward a bold initiative—the universal mandatory GHG levy for international shipping. This levy is our contribution to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a more sustainable future.

Yet setting our emission reduction ambition alone is not enough. We must undertake this transition in a profoundly unequal world. We must therefore also be ambitious in our commitment to equity, and to ensuring that the profound transformation we are undertaking reverses, not entrenches, the current gaps between the developed and developing world.

What sets our approach apart is our unwavering commitment to an equitable transition. We understand that the burden of addressing climate change should not fall disproportionately on those who have contributed the least to the problem. Our levy is designed to be equitable, ensuring that the responsibility for addressing climate change is shared by all, with the heaviest burdens carried by those who can most afford it.

We are advocating for an Equitable Transition that leaves no one behind. What this means is that:

  1. The transition should be procedurally fair. Developing countries and particularly SIDS and LDCs need to be at the table when these decisions are made.
  2. The transition should be equitable in terms of maritime mitigation. The research, development and deployment of fuels, technologies and infrastructure for zero-emission shipping on a Well-to-Wake basis should allow all States to access to strategic and sustainable development opportunities in the new energy and fuels markets created by the transition.
  3. The transition should be equitable in terms of responding to climate impacts. Shipping emissions have caused, are causing, and will continue to cause climate impacts. The polluter pays principle therefore requires that the majority of any revenues generated from pricing GHG emissions should be directed to addressing those climate impacts in developing countries, particularly SIDS and LDCs.

Equity, in our view, is not just a matter of economic fairness; it is a matter of justice. It means leaving no one behind. It means recognizing that the most vulnerable among us—those in marginalized communities, those on the frontlines of climate impacts—must be supported and protected as we embark on this global journey toward sustainability.

We will use the revenue generated from this levy to invest in clean energy solutions, to strengthen our resilience against climate impacts, and to support those in our society who need it most. We will ensure that our transition to a low-carbon economy creates jobs, empowers our people, and enhances our overall well-being.

We must acknowledge the unique situations in each of our countries. Some of us are perfectly situated for low-cost green hydrogen production, but we face the threat of more affluent nations leveraging their economic strength to dominate the global market. Economic development is vital for some of us, as it sustains a functional global trade system, while for others, it is the linchpin for maintaining a basic standard of living. Additionally, some of us heavily rely on shipping for essential tourism income and opportunities

We need all of this to happen with urgency.  For the levy to be effective it needs to have an ambitious entry price. Too low and we send the wrong signals, one that enables only a partial transition to intermediate fuels. When we proposed this levy at MEPC76 we called for an entry price of $100/ton/CO2- eq - if the levy was operational by 2025.  Now that the IMO has determined not to act before 2027, that price must increase if we are to achieve the necessary ambition. Which is why I am announcing our intention to now call for an entry price of $150/tonne at MEPC81. It is time to stop the ambiguity around defining these measures, it is time to take determined action.

In this endeavor, we call on the international community to stand with us. We ask for your partnership, your support, and your commitment to a more sustainable and equitable world. Our challenge is global, and it requires a global response.

Together, we can achieve the 1.5-degree Celsius agenda. Together, we can protect our planet for future generations. Together, we can ensure that no one is left behind. Our vision is ambitious, but our determination is unwavering. The Republic of the Marshall Islands is ready to lead the way, and we invite you to join us on this historic journey toward a brighter, more sustainable future.

Kommol Tata

"Our commitment to the 1.5-degree Celsius target is not just policy—it's a matter of survival!"

Ambassador Albon delivered a powerful speech at "A Just and Equitable Transition in a Shipping Industry" side event during COP28, where he laid out Republic of the Marshall Islands ambitious vision for combating climate change.

RMI led with a bold initiative—a GHG levy for international shipping. A move that will contribute significantly to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, showing that every nation must play a role in building a sustainable future.

The revenue generated from the levy will be invested in clean energy solutions, resilience against climate impacts, and supporting vulnerable communities. Their vision includes job creation, empowerment, and overall well-being for their people.

Ambassador Albon called on the international community to join hands in this global endeavor. "The challenge is immense, and a collective response is required. Let's stand together, support the Marshall Islands, and work towards a more sustainable and equitable world.", he said.

His vision is ambitious, but the determination is unwavering. RMI is ready to lead the way, and they invite the international community to join this historic journey toward a brighter, more sustainable future. #COP28 #Sustainability