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London International Shipping Week - Luncheon co-hosted with United Kingdom Shipping Minister

September 10, 2013

London International Shipping Week Co-hosted luncheon with UK Shipping Minister
IMO HQ
10 September 2013
Speech by Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General
International Maritime Organization

Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
I am very pleased to welcome you all here to IMO today, to this informal lunch which is taking place against the background of the first ever London International Shipping Week. Together with my co-host for the event, Mr. Stephen Hammond MP, the Shipping Minister for IMO’s host country, the United Kingdom, I am delighted that we are able to open IMO’s doors during this celebration of shipping in London, and I would particularly like to welcome those of you who are not regular visitors here at Albert Embankment.
 
What I would like to say today is directly related to the theme of this year, sustainable development and sustainability of shipping. 
 
As you know, the revised Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention entered into force on 1 July 2010. It introduced a set of tighter emission limits for ships than the previous version, in order that air pollution from ships would be reduced, over time, which would, as a consequence, lead to improved human health and a cleaner, more sustainable environment.
 
Shipping was, already, a relatively clean method of transport when you consider the emissions per tonne-mile of cargo carried. Nevertheless, other industrial sectors and transport modes have - in most parts of the world - already reduced their sulphur emissions and it is important that shipping, too, is making its contribution to global reductions in harmful emissions. I consider this to be a key element in improving the sustainability of shipping. 
 
Of course, it goes without saying that compliance with a requirement for ships to use low-sulphur fuel is largely dependent on sufficient quantities of such fuel being available, in the appropriate locations. To this end, MARPOL Annex VI requires Parties to take all reasonable steps to promote the availability of fuel oils which comply with Annex VI and inform IMO of the availability of compliant fuel oils in its ports and terminals.
 
MARPOL Annex VI also provides for a review to be completed, by 2018, of the availability of fuel oil to meet the requirement that the sulphur content of any fuel oil used on board ships shall not exceed 0.5 per cent on or after 1 January 2020.
 
How and when this review will be conducted are clearly matters of great concern. In October last year, the 64th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee agreed to defer consideration of the draft methodology and related timetable for the review, and invited further submissions on the topic to be submitted to MEPC 66.
 
No-one likes uncertainty, and there can be no doubt that agreeing a timescale for the review and a speedy and firm decision on the global application of the 0.5 per cent sulphur limit would benefit all interested parties. Annex VI stipulates that the review must be completed by 2018, but there is nothing to say that it cannot be completed earlier. Indeed, there is a strong argument that early completion of the review of the availability of low sulphur fuel will give more time for all concerned, including the refinery industry, to take the necessary action and react in time to meet the requirements if such a need is identified.
 
I stated at the Nor Shipping this year that IMO is the goal setter and the goal setter should not easily move the goal post once set, since that will damage the credibility of IMO and the confidence in industry players on regulations. IMO has set a goal for sulphur regulations in 2008 and the current global target is set for 2020. It is important for IMO to act now to have a clear picture on the availability of the required quantity of the low-sulphur fuel as soon as possible, so that we can take appropriate action.
 
As Mr. Hammond is about to tell you, the United Kingdom is willing to take a lead on this issue and will be making a submission to the next MEPC in this regard. It will, of course, be for the Members of IMO to decide how they wish to proceed with it.
 
For my part, I believe it is incumbent upon all concerned to do whatever they can to ensure that the important environmental and health benefits will flow from the implementation of the new rules. I have already been calling for IMO Member State governments to take a pro-active approach with the oil refinery and supply industries under their control to ensure the requirements that they adopted, by consensus, can be met, and I will continue to do so in speeches and public appearances, whenever I can.
 
Implementing the global 0.5% sulphur limit will be a challenge, and it is important that it is done properly taking into account the sustainability of shipping. I am pleased that the United Kingdom is willing to take the lead on this issue and I will now ask Stephen Hammond to say more about this initiative.
 
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