Shipping must deliver “transformational” cuts to carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels if climate change is to be controlled, according to a senior shipping banker.

Abhishek Pandey said current targets embodied in the International Maritime Organization policy to cut emissions by 50% in 2050 compared with 2008 were “just not enough”.

The global head of shipping finance at Standard Chartered said major shipowners and operators need to use their financial power to show leadership to the whole market by stepping up their ambition to decarbonise.

“Do what is right, not what is convenient,” he told the Marine Money conference in London this morning.

Citibank’s Michael Parker, head of the innovative Poseidon Principles for financiers, said environmental concerns were central to all banking decisions today.

As for decarbonisation, more and tougher measures were needed. “Neither the carrot nor the stick has been large enough so far,” Parker said.

Last week, the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change reported that the world was on track to see it warm by 3.2% if current policies continue, well above the upper limit set by the landmark Paris Agreement to limit climate change.

The world is already seeing climate impacts, storms, floods and extreme temperatures, that scientists warned of 30 years ago, Pandey said.

To control the situation “policy effects have to be transformational”, he added.

The IMO’s current target to cut 2008 CO2 emissions from shipping of 920m tonnes to 480m tonnes in 2050 was inadequate. “It is clear the current targets are just not enough.” The risk to the planet was “catastrophic”.

Last year just weeks after the COP26 meeting’s global commitment to hit net zero, IMO member nations again decided against upping its target. The next debate at the IMO is due in June.

Pandey said with 60% of shipowners being small and medium-sized businesses, it would fall on the bigger and financially stronger companies to take the lead in cutting carbon.

“Decarbonisation is a team sport,” Pandey added. Standard Chartered has committed to supporting shipping decarbonisation as part of its overall $300bn financing project.