Climate Emergency: Shipping SOS


Thanks to those who have sent in boats!

UPDATE - Campaigners will be there as delegates arrive at the IMO negotiations (from 8am on 7th May, Albert Embankment SE1 7SR). Bring climate emergency signs to support performers who will greet the delegates as they go in, and Noga who will be representing the UK youth strikers inside the talks. 

Children and young people across the world have been demanding that their voices be heard - and that those in positions of power take real action to tackle the climate emergency.

In London, from 7 May, representatives from almost all the world's countries are meeting to discuss whether one of the world’s most polluting industries, global shipping, will cut its emissions before 2030.

Some nations are keen to see urgent action, as they are already suffering climate change impacts. Other delegations are more interested in industry profits. Countries such as the US, Saudi Arabia and Brazil are expected to try and block climate action. 

We need to open up these secretive, industry-dominated negotiations to the voices of those most affected by climate change, including younger generations. We’re inviting children and young people to have their say in a simple visual way, writing messages on origami boats which will be delivered to over 1000 delegates from around the world.

Find out more about how to take part below

10 facts about shipping and climate change

1. The shipping industry is huge. Around 90% of global trade  - from our clothes and food to building materials and fossil fuels - is carried by sea in a merchant fleet of around 50,000 ships. 

2. The largest of these ships are around 400 metres long. To put this in context, the Eiffel tower is 300m tall, and football pitches are 90-120m long.

3. The shipping industry’s carbon footprint is greater than any single country in the world except China, the US, India, Russia and Japan. 

4. Shipping is regulated by a UN agency, the International Maritime Agency (IMO).

5. At the IMO meeting in April 2018 it was agreed to reduce emissions by at least half by 2050.  

6. This is nowhere near the level of cuts needed to avoid the worst consequences of climate change (above 1.5C average warming). We need to have at least halved global emissions by 2030 and be at zero by 2050.

7. In May 2019, the IMO will meet again to decide what rules they will put in place to cut emissions before 2030. We know we need to cut emissions during the next decade to have a chance of avoiding the worst climate impacts - it’s vital that the IMO don’t delay action until after 2030.

8. There is one easy way to cut shipping’s carbon footprint right now - make ships go more slowly. A ship travelling 10% slower uses 30% less fuel, so emits 30% less CO2 (the overall saving is a bit less as more ships are needed to transport the same amount of goods if they travel slowly).

9. Other technologies can be introduced to cut carbon emissions further, including better ship design, cleaner fuels and even wind power!

10. In shipping, as with every other part of the economy, we can't afford to wait to cut emissions. We need to act now. But the IMO won't make the right decision unless they're put under public pressure. That's where you come in...

Making your boats

Children and young people are invited to make, fold and draw messages on over 1000 origami boats that will be delivered to the decision making delegates at the IMO on the 7th of May. You can do this as a family, or as a school activity, linked to learning about climate change, the environment and transport.

What you need

Plain A4 paper (white or coloured), coloured pens

How to make a paper boat (video)

Guide for teachers with images of shipping


What should the messages say?

Short simple messages are good - then decorate the boat!

'IMO cut emissions now!'

'Climate emergency - time to act'

'The world's children say act on climate'

'Shipping SOS - Climate Emergency'

'Slow down ships, don't speed up climate breakdown'

'Cut carbon now for our future'

While we expect most of the boats will come from children and young people in the UK, we welcome them from anywhere (you could draw the flag of your home country on the boat). If you speak two languages why not add messages in both?

Post them to Campaign against Climate Change, 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX, United Kingdom. (to arrive by 3 May)

Why not take a picture of your boat first and share it on social media? Use hashtag #ShippingSOS