Industry Groups Report Progress in IMO CO2 Talks

IMO headquarters (file image)

By The Maritime Executive 10-27-2017 10:11:25

On Friday, four main industry bodies representing international shipping – ICS, BIMCO, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO – reported that they are "broadly satisfied" with this week's IMO working group talks on carbon emission reductions. 

The four groups are "encouraged that the ambitious proposals from the shipping industry regarding CO2 reduction objectives for the sector as a whole remain on the table," alongside alternatives from member states. They also noted progress on a list of emissions reductions measures for the short, medium and long term, but emphasized that a future goal of zero CO2 emissions will require alternative fuels and propulsion technology. 

The IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) will meet again next April, and the industry groups expressed confidence that the meeting will produce a "comprehensive" CO2 strategy that will "fully match the ambition of the Paris Agreement on climate change." 

The last two MEPC meetings – MEPC 70 in October 2016 and MEPC 71 in July 2017 – did not result in specific measures for climate emissions reductions, although MEPC 71 did adopt a "draft outline" to guide future negotiations. The director of NGO Transport & Environment, Bill Hemmings, said that "disagreement over how to distribute efforts and the potential costs of measures remain the biggest obstacle” to an IMO convention on CO2. Climate advocates like Mark Halferty, transport minister of the Marshall Islands, called for "much more rapid progress" ahead of this month's working group meeting. 

UK-based analysts InfluenceMap, an advocacy group that seeks to document, assess and report the extent of lobbying influence on climate policy, recently criticized ICS and other industry groups for allegedly slowing the pace of IMO's CO2 talks. In a report issued Monday, InfluenceMap alleged that ICS, WSC and BIMCO "lobbied to delay GHG emissions reduction measures for shipping until 2023," "rejected any binding greenhouse gas emissions targets" and "collectively opposed ambitious energy efficiency standards."

IMO defended itself against these charges, citing the rights of its member states to include industry representation in their delegations to MEPC and other technical groups. “As is the case in other U.N. agencies of a technical nature, 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," IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim said in a statement. WSC and ICS highlighted their own climate proposals, including ICS's climate target goals and WSC's plan for investment in improved propulsion and ship design.