Opening plenary of SBSTA 31



Copenhagen, Denmark, 7 to 18 December 2009

Statement that the IMO Secretariat delivered
at the opening plenary of SBSTA 31

Thank you Madame Chair, good afternoon distinguish delegates,

The International Maritime Organization is the specialized agency of the United Nations and has, over the past 52 years, developed and enacted an impressive body of international legislation consisting of 51 treaty instruments, which regulate shipping from the safety, security, efficiency of navigation and environmental protection perspectives.

The latest session of IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee concluded, in July this year, a package of technical and operational measures to reduce GHG emissions from international shipping, intended for voluntary application until the Committee's sixtieth session in March 2010, when their scope of application and enactment will be debated taking into account the conclusions from this conference.

The Committee also agreed on a work plan for further consideration and development of a suitable market-based instrument for international shipping culminating in 2011.

Accordingly, all the necessary mechanisms leading to a strong shipping-related anti climate change infrastructure are in place or well underway and an agreement on their application is the only aspect pending before a robust and efficient GHG reduction regime for international shipping is agreed for the benefit of the global environment and future generations.

Being fully aware of the ultimate objective of the UNFCCC, which is to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that prevents dangerous interference in the global climate system, IMO is seeking a win-win solution where a GHG regime for international shipping, once enacted, will deliver real emission reductions and, at the same time, will contribute financially towards the wider efforts in combating climate change in developing countries. The interests of mankind and the global climate would be best served if the Parties to the UNFCCC here in Copenhagen, most of which are also IMO Member States, decided to continue entrusting the Organization with the development and enacting of the global regulatory regime needed to control greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, based on the above premises.

Madam Chair, let me emphasize that:

• IMO has an impressive track record of successfully addressing, resolving and promoting all issues within its competence and on its agenda;

• On environmental issues in particular, the Organization has performed excellently, being able to demonstrate a globally-recognized contribution towards reducing pollution of the marine environment from all sources of shipping operations oil spills, in particular and tackling, head on, threats to the atmospheric environment, first through drastically reducing air pollutants from ships and, now, through an impressive array of measures aiming at reducing GHG emissions from ships;

• With the firm support of its Member Governments, the Organization is determined to play, responsibly and effectively, its role as the global body entrusted with the regulation of international shipping and, as far as the Copenhagen Conference is concerned, to make its contribution to the global efforts to stem climate change and global warming.

Madam Chair, to conclude, it is for these strong and undeniable reasons that IMO is participating in this Conference, fully expecting that the global community will re-state its confidence in IMO and empower it to complete the tasks it has so diligently advanced with a view to delivering an effective contribution to the objectives this Conference pursues, through the regulation of international shipping. Once this is confirmed, IMO will spare no effort to do its duty, within any timeframe that the present Conference should choose to decide.

Thank you.