WSC, IMO Fire Back at Study Findings on Lack of Action on Climate Change

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The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the World Shipping Council (WSC) have hit back at the accusations stemming from the recently published study by the InfluenceMap on the IMO’s approach to tackling carbon emissions from shipping.

The report claims that the shipping industry has aggressively lobbied the UN to obstruct climate change action for shipping, “ensuring it remains the only sector in the world not currently subject to any emission reduction measures.”

The report further alleges that despite being responsible for close to 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the shipping sector remains outside of the UN Paris Climate Agreement. A 2015 European Parliament report estimated that shipping could be responsible for 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 if left unregulated, potentially jeopardizing global ambitions set out under the Paris Agreement.

“Progress on regulation has been stalled by powerful shipping trade associations, with the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) leading efforts to oppose action on climate change at the IMO. ICS, alongside BIMCO and the World Shipping Council, have collectively lobbied to delay implementation of any climate regulations until 2023 – even then refusing to support anything but voluntary regulations that may not reduce the sector’s overall greenhouse emissions,” InfluenceMap said.

Furthermore, the research further states that IMO appears to be the only UN agency to allow extensive corporate representation in the policy-making process since at the most recent IMO environmental committee meeting 31% of nations were represented in part by direct business interests.

WSC said that the study seriously misrepresents its approach to reducing carbon emissions from shipping.

“WSC has offered concrete proposals for both short and long-term carbon reductions, including establishment of an International Maritime Research Board with a mandate to direct and fund research and development of new and improved marine propulsion systems, electric generation plants, fuels, and ship design; periodic review and modification of EEDI standards to promote the introduction of increasingly carbon-efficient tonnage in the maritime fleet; and reduction of air emissions from the existing fleet through investments in energy-enhancing technology,” a statement from the council reads.

Responding to the claims, the IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said that the make-up of national delegations to IMO is “entirely a matter for the countries themselves, and those countries who wish to include industry technical experts or others may do so.”

“Neither the IMO Convention, nor any of the Rules of Procedure for individual meetings limits, in any way, Member States’ ability to structure their delegations as they consider most appropriate in order to carefully consider the issues before them.  

“In addition, IMO currently has consultative arrangements with 77 NGOs. They include environmental groups, seafarer organizations, and groups representing classification societies, shipbuilders and owners of different types of ships. The range of NGOs represented at IMO rightfully covers the broad spectrum of shipping, maritime and social interests. These NGO’s are selected by the Member States based on their ability to substantially contribute to the work of the IMO through the provision of information, expert advice and representation of large groups whose activities have a direct bearing on the work of IMO. Participation of organizations representing so many different viewpoints provides a balance that adds considerably to the credibility of the Organization’s overall output,” Lim said in a statement.

“IMO’s efforts to reduce harmful air emissions from ships spans decades, and continues this week with the second meeting of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships,” he pointed out.

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