Congressmember Lowenthal to introduce bill to clean up global shipping industry

The bill would "clean up the shipping industry, protect the health of port communities, address environmental injustice, and provide solutions to the climate crisis."

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Image Credit: Port of Long Beach

While leaders of the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee met in London last week to talk about international regulations to decarbonize the shipping sector, U.S. Congressman Lowenthal (D-Calif.) will introduce a bill aimed to zero out pollution from all ocean shipping companies that do business with the United States.

The bill would “clean up the shipping industry, protect the health of port communities, address environmental injustice, and provide solutions to the climate crisis,” according to a press release. Currently, “the shipping industry emits roughly the same as all the coal plants in the U.S. combined,” U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported.

“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,” Lowenthal, who represents the nation’s largest ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, 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.”

While the Marine Environment Protection Committee’s (MEPC) 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,” the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) current strategy will not meet the goal of the Paris Agreement, a press release reported.

“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,” Lowenthal said. “We have made progress, but communities like mine still suffer under the impacts of shipping on their air, oceans, climate, and health.”

The shipping sector is responsible for 1 billion tons of climate pollution per year, a press release reported. Lowenthal’s coming legislation is said to help close the gap between IMO’s strategy and the Paris Agreement in order to limit a global average temperature increase to 1.5-degrees C.

“The technology now exists to end port pollution and clean up the shipping industry,” Lowenthal said.

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