IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim has waded in to the debate over “Corporate Capture of the IMO?,” saying:
“Recent media reports have questioned the transparent, inclusive approach adopted by all stakeholders with an interest in addressing the threat of climate change through the IMO, the global regulator of shipping, and the body most able to deliver uniform, global solutions in the spirit of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Indeed, IMO's efforts to reduce harmful air emissions from ships spans decades, and continues this week with the second meeting of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships. 57 IMO Member States and 21 Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in consultative status are participating in this week's meeting.
“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. Neither the IMO Convention, nor any of the Rules of Procedure for individual meetings limits, in any way, Member States' ability to structure their delegations as they consider most appropriate in order to carefully consider the issues before them.
“In addition, IMO currently has consultative arrangements with 77 NGOs. They include environmental groups, seafarer organizations and groups representing classification societies, shipbuilders and owners of different types of ships. The range of NGOs represented at IMO rightfully covers the broad spectrum of shipping, maritime and social interests.
“These NGO's are selected by the Member States based on their ability to substantially contribute to the work of the IMO through the provision of information, expert advice and representation of large groups whose activities have a direct bearing on the work of IMO. Participation of organizations representing so many different viewpoints provides a balance that adds considerably to the credibility of the Organization's overall output. This inclusiveness is one of IMO's great strengths.”
InfluenceMap Responds to Lim
Dylan Tanner, Executive Director, InfluenceMap, has responded in turn to Lim's comments:
“The Secretary-General of the IMO notes 'participation of organizations representing so many viewpoints provides a balance that adds considerably to the credibility of the Organization's overall output.' However, the extensive influence the shipping sector has over the IMO, as shown by our research suggests this balance is clearly tilted in the favor of shipping industry interests.
“Further, our research shows the positions these corporate interests take suggest they are actively working to oppose meaningful policy progress to address the impact of the shipping sector on global climate change.
"InfluenceMap has a systematic and data-driven approach to assessing corporate and trade association engagement with policy and regulations. It has been applied successfully to drive objective debate and positive change within the global climate policy agenda. We certainly hope this can happen in the context of global shipping and stand by the conclusions of our report."
Discussing the InfluenceMap methodology, Tanner says:
“Our methodology for assessing corporate influence over policy has been deployed in a variety of sectors, policy areas and geographies and is well regarded by the investment, media and business communities. It is based on a breakdown of a specific policy area into key sub-issues and assessment of how a company or trade association engages with these by accessing a wide range of information sources, including submissions by the companies to the official regulatory consultation process (often obtained by Freedom of Information requests), corporate websites, reliable media coverage, transcripts of messaging from the organizational heads, financial disclosures etc.
“On the compiling of the report, Corporate capture of the IMO over 100 pieces of evidence on three key trade groups active at the IMO, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), BIMCO and the World Shipping Council (WSC) were assessed and archived online to create a systematic view of their positions on climate-related policy. This approach contrasts with recent responses to our report which attempt to refute these systematic conclusions with isolated and often subjective statements not borne out by a thorough review of the relevant data.”
InfluenceMap Response to Comments from the World Shipping Council (WSC):
“In its response to the InfluenceMap report, the WSC states it 'offers concrete proposals for both short and long-term carbon reductions’ and highlights a policy submission on climate action, (MEPC) 71/7/4, co-submitted earlier this year. In this document the WSC offers three proposals to reduce emissions in the shipping sector, none of which include binding sector-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets or caps. In this same document the WSC also stated support to “periodically review and modify EEDI standards to promote the introduction of increasingly carbon-efficient tonnage in the maritime fleet”, a proposal which does not include explicit support for increasing the strength of the EEDI energy efficiency standards.
“Further, our research suggests the WSC has actively lobbied against the introduction of operational energy efficiency standards for shipping (as evidenced by documents archived on InfluenceMap's portal). This is also despite a 2016 UMAS study revealing that current EEDI targets are so weak that they will only deliver a three percent greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2050, compared to a scenario without the EEDI in place.
“The WSC also claims that InfluenceMap is "spreading misinformation" by suggesting that the Paris Agreement is 'legally binding.' While the Paris Agreement may not be strictly enforceable, it contains many binding elements, some non-binding measures and other parts that are more aspirational, as detailed on the U.N. FCCC website.”
InfluenceMap Response to Comments from the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS):
“The ICS has argued in its critique of the InfluenceMap report that the number of documents submitted by industry ahead of meetings shows how seriously it regards action on GHG emissions reductions. Our research suggests otherwise when it comes to IMO policy. For example, in 2017 ICS and BIMCO rejected calls in a joint IMO submission to introduce a binding GHG emissions target or cap for shipping, supporting only a voluntary “aspirational” reduction target, reasserting this position in September 2017.
“Additionally, in 2016 the ICS, BIMCO and the WSC co-sponsored an IMO policy submission that opposed the introduction of GHG emissions regulations for the shipping industry until 2023. This would be seven years after the Paris Accord and a full 26 years after the Kyoto Agreement granted the IMO the authority to regulate climate policy for shipping at the international level.
“The influence of the three trade associations (ICS, WSC, BIMCO) at the IMO is significant. Based on an analysis of the most recent IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) delegate list, this research shows the ICS, for example, brought more representatives (16) to the last IMO MEPC environmental meeting in July 2017 than 85 percent of nation-states did.”
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.