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Charities seek levy on shipping fuel for climate

- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 7, 2011

AMSTERDAM (AP) - U.N. climate negotiators should consider a fuel surcharge on international shipping to partly finance a $100 billion annual pledge to help developing countries meet the challenges of global warming, environmental groups proposed in a report released Thursday.

Oxfam and the World Wildlife Fund suggested a levy of $25 per ton on fuels that drive the global merchant marine, which transports 90 percent of world trade and contributes about 3 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

A surcharge at that level would add 0.2 percent to shipping costs, or $2 on every $1,000, the report said, but would raise at least $25 billion a year.

Delegates from 193 countries convene in Durban, South Africa for two weeks beginning Nov. 28, the next in an annual series of U.N. conferences seeking a global agreement to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that scientists say is responsible for climate change.

The last conference in Cancun, Mexico, created a $100 billion Green Climate Fund starting in 2020, but left open how that would be mobilized. It said only that it should come from public and private sources.

The Oxfam-WWF report said a carbon levy would be a first step. Part of the revenue could be directed to poor countries to offset higher import costs, but at least $10 billion a year could be deposited in the climate fund.

"Our research shows it is possible to cut the massive greenhouse gas emissions from shipping without unfairly hitting developing countries, and to generate billions of dollars in new cash for climate action in poor countries in the process," said Tim Gore, who co-authored the report for Oxfam.

The world's cargo fleet of about 50,000 ships is powered by heavily polluting oil known as bunker fuels. The International Maritime Organization, the U.N. agency that regulates shipping, says the fleet's emissions are expected to double or even triple by mid-century if no action is taken.

In July, the IMO's powerful Environment Protection Committee decided that new ships must meet energy efficiency standards _ a ruling that in effect will lead to emission reductions. The decision is expected to be endorsed by agency's general meeting of 169 member nations in November.

The IMO's action is the first measure on climate change to apply equally to all countries regardless of whether they are from the industrial or developing world.

The report by Oxfam and WWF, said the additional cost of importing food, for example, would be insignificant compared with the volatility of food and oil prices.

IMO studies cited by the report said the levy would drive up fuel costs by no more than 10 percent. "This is much less than the fluctuation of fuel prices over the past decade," it said.

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