Corporate Capture of the IMO?
A new report by U.K.-based InfluenceMap has accused prominent shipping industry organizations of aggressive lobbying to obstruct climate change action – a claim the organizations deny.
The report release comes as the IMO is negotiating its future climate change strategy this week and accuses the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), BIMCO and the World Shipping Council (WSC) of lobbying to delay implementation of climate regulations. “They have lobbied to delay GHG emissions reduction measures for shipping until 2023 and rejected any binding greenhouse gas emissions targets. They have also collectively opposed ambitious energy efficiency standards and appear unsupportive of a price on carbon.” The report states that at the most recent IMO environmental committee meeting, 31 percent of nations were represented in part by direct business interests.
Neither the IMO Convention, nor any of the Rules of Procedure, limit the make-up of delegations in any way. The same holds true for every other U.N. body with a technical aspect. An IMO spokesperson said, “Nominating people to its delegation is an internal domestic matter for each Member State. The IMO Secretariat is not involved in those decisions.”
Simon Bennett, Director, Policy & External Relations, ICS, says: “Far from seeking to derail progress it was the shipping industry which played a large part in persuading IMO Member States to develop a strategy to address the further reduction of the sector's emissions following the adoption of the Paris Agreement.” Further, he says it's normal practice for national shipping industry experts to provide advice on technical issues to their government representatives by joining national governments delegations at IMO meetings, but these also commonly comprise representatives from national seafarers' unions and environmental NGOs too.
All three organizations have maintained transparency regarding their position on climate change discussions at IMO (for example here and here). BIMCO has said this in a statement to The Maritime Executive: “BIMCO’s position on GHG reduction is fully transparent and clearly demonstrates that we welcome the Roadmap for the reduction of GHG emissions by international shipping. Further, we have been active in setting out realistic proposals to drive international shipping towards a meaningful reduction in GHG emissions. Our position has been set out in various submissions to IMO, most recently to MEPC 71. These submissions are open and freely available.”
The WSC has also responded saying: “The InfluenceMap “study” on the IMO’s greenhouse gas debate released on October 23 seriously misrepresents the World Shipping Council’s approach to reducing carbon emissions from shipping. Contrary to InfluenceMap’s assertions, WSC has offered concrete proposals for both short and long-term carbon reductions. In April of this year, WSC co-sponsored submittal MEPC 71/7/4, which proposed the following three core approaches to reducing CO2 emissions (repeated below verbatim from the paper submitted to the IMO):
1. establish 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;
2. periodically review and modify EEDI standards to promote the introduction of increasingly carbon-efficient tonnage in the maritime fleet; and
3. reduce air emissions from the existing fleet through investments in energy-enhancing technology.
“The InfluenceMap paper also spreads misinformation about both the Paris Agreement and the work of the IMO. The Paris Agreement is not, as stated by InfluenceMap, “legally binding.” To the contrary, it is purely aspirational, with no legal consequences for any nation’s failure to meet the objectives that each country sets for itself. In contrast, the IMO’s EEDI and fuel consumption reporting regimes are legally binding, and the IMO continues to consider additional legally binding requirements. The issues to be addressed by the IMO are technically and politically complex. WSC urges all parties to maintain their focus on finding practical and effective solutions.”
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.