A day after UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres admonished world leaders for not doing enough to stop the “direct existential threat” of climate change, IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim told a shipping industry gathering at the UK Chamber of Shipping headquarters in London that the shipping world had reached a critical moment in setting its climate change policy for the future.
Mr Lim said the upcoming 73rd meeting of IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee in October could not afford to lose the energy generated by the successful passage of the initial strategy on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shipping last April.
“Next month, we are starting to talk about a real action plan, which is a substantial discussion, so we have to maintain the momentum that was created last April,” he said.
In his prepared remarks, Mr Lim addressed the concerns voiced before and during debates around GHG emissions at MEPC 72 in April and then, in his own words, recapped the ‘burden’ that rapid change – financial, environmental, technolgical and regulatory – was putting on the shipping industry.
“Particularly since 2008, when the financial crisis happened, the shipping industry has been suffering a lot and is still suffering some financial issues, over-capacity issues and broader trade issues,” Mr Lim acknowledged.
“And, at the same time, recently, IMO has been producing major [policy] development around environmental issues. One is the ballast water treatment issue… and the second one we are talking about is the climate change issue, which is developing a lot and will have a big impact on the shipping industry. And the other one is sulphur issues. Each of these is happening at the same time,” he said.
Noting the industry trajectory towards automation in shipping and rapidly increasing adoption of digital technologies, Mr Lim said, “All of those things are taking place at the same time, which is creating another financial burden for the shipping industry.”
Mr Lim thanked the industry for its collective support in passing the GHG initial strategy and then made it a point to highlight the role IMO member state governments had taken in mitigating the burden faced by the shipping industry while considering new regulatorymeasures.
“We believe the IMO member states have been putting a lot of effort in to mitigate an unnecessary burden to the industry, including considering practical challenges and ways to minimise their impacts,” Mr Lim said.
“So IMO as a whole will try – continue to try – to consider as much as possible [mitigating any] ‘unnecessary burden’ and the relative impacts to the industry [of its legislation].”
'No delay' to sulphur cap, says IMO
IMO has reiterated that its 0.5% limit on sulphur in ships’ fuel oil will be in force from 1 January 2020, under the UN body's MARPOL treaty.
IMO’s Edmund Hughes told the Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference (APPEC) this week that the new limit -- known as the sulphur cap -- will be applicable globally on 1 January 2020.
A statement from IMO said the upcoming IMO MEPC 73 meeting (22-26 October) is expected to approve ship implementation planning guidance for sulphur cap requirements as well as best practice guides for member States and coastal states and for fuel oil suppliers.
The MEPC is also expected to adopt a MARPOL amendment in support of the sulphur cap that will prohibit the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil -- containing more than 0.5% sulphur -- unless the ship has an exhaust gas cleaning system, or scrubber, fitted.