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23. October 2020


Disappointing proposal for climate action

An ambitious and clear climate regulation for shipping could not be agreed at the recent meetings of the IMO’s working group.

Hopes were high, but the outcome of the recent meetings of the IMO’s working group on the future CO2 regulation of ships has ended up somewhat less positive.

All week the Member States have been discussing how to adapt the regulation so that merchant ships can have less impact on the climate in the future.

However, the differences have been so great that the agreement that the working group is now sending on to the IMO does not bring much joy to Danish Shipping.

Maria Skipper Schwenn, Director of Safety, Environment and Maritime Research at Danish Shipping, says:

“At first glance, this is a disappointing result and we must simply note that, unfortunately, the IMO’s Member States were unable to deliver the goods this time. This is worrying for Danish shipping companies, which are clearly calling for an enforceable regulation. It should promote innovation and the transition towards CO2 neutrality, and also take into account small and large shipping companies and different types of ships.”

The agreement sets out a number of technical requirements that ships must meet by 2023. In addition, a number of operational requirements have been agreed on how to operate a ship, but in fact there are no consequences if the operational requirements are not met.

“This vague regulation must be addressed when the IMO’s Environment Committee meets virtually from 16 November,” she says.

“Here, every effort must be made to achieve a regulation that actually guarantees efficiency improvements and provides incentives for investment in and transition to green fuels.”

Regulation at fleet level

By looking at the CO2 emissions of individual ships rather than the total fleet’s emissions, it removes the incentive to invest in and develop the greenest zero-emission ships.

“Overall, we are in favour of looking at the actual conditions and not committing to theoretical proposals. Container ships and passenger ships should not, of course, be measured in the same way. Ships must be measured based on how much they have actually transported and not on how much capacity they have,” says Maria Skipper Schwenn.

In November, the IMO’s Environment Committee is due to approve the resolution, and further negotiations will follow in the spring.