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What next for IMO on the decarbonisation of international shipping?

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During the 2023 GREEN4SEA Forum, Dr. Edmund Hughes, Director, Green Marine Associates, presented key issues to be resolved on the Revision of the IMO GHG Strategy at MEPC 80 in July. He briefly mentioned the current status of IMO negotiations and provided an overview of proposed technical and economic measures being considered by IMO including ways to encourage the uptake of alternative low-/zero-carbon fuels.

There are two reasons why shipping changes. The one, is to make more money and the other is regulation. At the moment, we have lots of discussions about targets, goals, ambition, barriers and what we are going to do up to 2050. But what the European Union is doing is regulation. Mandatory requirements that make people act, change and have to respond.

If IMO doesn’t come forward with credible plans and policies, then the likelihood of measures following that, is going to be diminished. This will happen because people are going to look at those measures and say that these are unworkable for shipping and the global trade and commerce it services. Furthermore, it will further undermine the primacy of IMO as the global regulator for shipping as other regions/countries are likely to take their own action to regulate GHG emissions from internationally trading ships.

"Today, virtually all commercial activity in shipping is viewed by one or more States as political."

This quote, from 1987, captures essentially where we are with the greenhouse gas discussion. Because whilst many of people at this forum are ship owners, operators, managers and you understand the shipping industry, the people making the decisions at the moment about the future of shipping, for many of them it is a political game and shipping is just a politically expedient vehicle for them to gain leverage over other States.


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