The worsening effects of climate change have made it imperative for all nations to implement the necessary measures that will prevent global temperature from increasing. These measures have one goal: to significantly reduce carbon emissions that harm the ozone layer, which protects Earth’s inhabitants from UV rays. The catchphrase nowadays is “net zero,” which means cutting carbon emissions to as close to zero as possible, according to the United Nations.
The costs of adaptation measures implemented by certain sectors like the maritime industry are painful at the outset, especially since these will be put in place at a time when the world continues to grapple with the fallout from the conflict in Eastern Europe. It could raise the costs of some commodities initially, particularly since ships carry more than 80 percent of world trade. Countries like the Philippines that import huge volumes of food and fuel and raw materials, such as mechanically deboned meat, would have to be ready for the possible impact of this development.
Based on the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the country’s food imports continued to outpace agricultural exports in April to June. While food imports declined by a tenth to $4.32 billion in the second quarter from last year’s $4.84 billion, the figure was significantly higher than earnings from agricultural exports, which reached only $1.61 billion. These figures show that it may take a while for the Philippines to significantly reduce its reliance on foreign producers and shipping companies that will transport its food requirements.
The Philippines is not the only country in the world that is reliant on the maritime industry. Unfortunately, vessels are a big source of emissions. In 2018, vessels pumped about one billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2018.
It is for this reason that a number of countries have called for a levy to be imposed on greenhouse gas emissions of shipping vessels in June. The move is expected to hasten the green transition of the shipping industry, which is said to be responsible for about 3 percent of man-made carbon dioxide emissions. Bloomberg reported that France, Spain, Norway and Portugal are among 22 nations that supported “the principle of a levy on the GHG emissions” of the international shipping sector and that the European Commission supports it.
The country’s economists have earlier voiced their concerns over calls to impose a levy on greenhouse gas emissions of shipping lines. (See, “Carbon tax seen to hike goods’ prices,” in the BusinessMirror, June 28, 2023). Experts said a carbon tax will have the same effect as a tariff that will make goods more expensive. However, this is the price that citizens of this planet must be prepared to pay, whether they are from rich or poor countries, to stop climate change from further destroying their only home.
The cost of transitioning to a greener world may be onerous but it is something that even low- and middle-income countries must bear. We can only hope that the adaptation measures would immediately produce the results the world needs to help prevent global warming.