Equity and equitable transition: In a world of Shipping decarbonisation

The Maritime Center for Sustainable Transport (MCST) organizes a running series of e-Bwebwenato (in Marshallese)/e-Talanoa sessions every month with the overarching theme of “Framing High Ambition.” The event which took place on September 1st was centered around ambition and equity. This followed the submission, “Resolution on zero emissions no later than 2050” made to the upcoming 77th Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC77) by Kiribati, Solomon Islands, and Marshall Islands. The recent IPCC report being quoted in interventions at regional or international forums should not come as a surprise. It is a red code for humanity and yet at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) we are still arguing about whether we should be highly ambitious or rather be just ambitious.

We worry about equal opportunities, rights – equality in general. Where does equity and equitable transition for shipping decarbonisation fit in? Equality means giving everyone the same thing, whereas equity means giving people what they need to reach their best health. This picture below perfectly describes the equity debate, and we use this in our e-Bwebwenato series to define equity.

The last box of Justice says that “the cause(s) if the inequity was addressed, the systemic barrier has been removed”. What I see is all boxes have boys – there is more in the picture than the gender inequality.

The most climate vulnerable countries – especially the Pacific Islands – have asked the shipping industry to compensate for the years of carbon emitted which has fueled their industrial revolution and often generous profit margins. The carbon levy submission by the Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands sets another highly ambitious benchmark for the shipping industry.

A recent preliminary analysis of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) found windfall profits amounting to billions of Euros to be concentrated in a few large companies.




Carbon price assumption

Windfall profit Estimate

IPA Energy Consulting (2005)

UK Phase I


£800 million/year

Sijm and Neuhoff (2006)

DE, UK, FR, BE and NLPower sector in Phase I



€5.3-7 billion per year

Martin et al (2012)and Martin et al (2013)

EU all sectors in Phase III



€3-7 billion per year

Maxwell (2011)

UK Power sector in Phase II



£1 billion per year

Point Carbon WWF (2008)



German and UK Power  sector in Phase II



€14-34 bn for Germany

€6-15 bn for UK

Lise et al (2010)

EU 20 Power sector


€35 billion


What is equity then? What is equitable transition when purse strings are controlled by a handful of overdeveloped countries?

Author: Maria Sahib (Article published in Fiji Sun)


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