Symposium on IMO 2020 and alternative fuels

Symposium on IMO 2020 and alternative fuels

IMO HQ, 17 October 2019

Opening remarks by the Secretary-General, Mr. Kitack Lim

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen

First, let me welcome you all, including participants on live streaming.  .  We appreciate your interest in the work of the Organization, particularly our collective efforts to make the shipping cleaner and greener, to protect human health and marine environment.  I hope this Symposium on IMO 2020 and alternative fuels will provide a good insight into IMO's important work.

I also thank all the speakers.  This sharing information is invaluable to provide a high level of awareness of the challenges and opportunities that the shipping, fuel oil and other relevant industries have been facing. 

I would briefly touch upon the history of the IMO 2020 sulphur limit.  In October 2008, more than 10 years ago, IMO adopted comprehensive amendments to MARPOL Annex VI that regulates the prevention of air pollution from ships.

In October 2016, following a thorough review of the provision on the 0.50% sulphur requirement, MEPC confirmed that the rule becomes mandatory on 1 January 2020. This rule has become known as IMO 2020. 

After the confirmation of the compulsory date of 1 January 2020, there has been a tremendous amount of work undertaken to prepare for IMO 2020 by all stakeholders, such as Member Governments, shipowners and operators, fuel oil suppliers and the oil refinery sector, and the IMO Secretariat, which deserves my highest appreciation and commendation. 

The new rule presents a unique challenge, as majority of ships are expected to choose new types of compliant fuel oils, so-called very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO), or marine gas/diesel oil.  Sufficient availability of such compliant fuels on the global market, which should be compatible with the existing engines, is essential.  Therefore, preparation, well before 2020, is the key to success of IMO 2020.

Furthermore, it has required shipowners to consider how and when to procure this fuel oil and to prepare their ships to receive, store and use this fuel oil on board.  This is a significant logistical and technical challenge and indeed IMO has sought to support this process through the development of specific guidelines, including the development of a ship implementation plan (SIP).

In May this year, MEPC completed many guidelines and guidance documents to support the consistent implementation of the 0.50% sulphur limit under MARPOL Annex VI. The progress made clearly demonstrates IMO's collective commitment to that goal.  I have reiterated that the IMO Secretariat would do our best by facilitating dialogues among stakeholders to help Member States and industries to implement IMO 2020.

This Symposium is an important part of our efforts to share understanding and review where we are in the preparations for the IMO 2020 on sulphur limit that is actually already in force.

 Whilst IMO 2020 is very much at the forefront of our minds and its impacts are already being seen, tomorrow, the symposium will consider the use of alternative fuels and their role in enabling the shipping industry's transition to a low and eventually zero carbon future.

The adoption of the Initial IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG emissions from ships last year has sent a clear signal to the shipping and relevant industries that the sector will need to decarbonize in this century.  IMO has set a goal of at least a 50% reduction in GHG emissions from international shipping by 2050, which means averagely more than 80% reduction of GHG emission from each ship.

IMO's ambition can only be realised with the development and application of technological innovation and the introduction of alternative fuels, which means low- or zero-carbon fuels should be made available soon.

We are already seeing several pioneering efforts to put the shipping sector on the right path towards a more environmentally responsible future.

IMO2020 has highlighted the importance of energy used by ships.  Obviously, the shipping sector is essential for a sustainable future. Hence, maritime activities themselves need to be sustainable - and an important part of IMO's role is to ensure that shipping continues to make its contribution to global trade and development in a sustainable way. This means that the fuels of the future used by ships need to come from sustainable energy sources and sustainable feedstocks.

This Symposium comes at a time when shipping is making a big step towards that sustainable future.  However, the voyage has just started towards a more environmentally friendly and low-/zero-carbon future that the sector must attain. I'd like to emphasize that collaboration among key stakeholders is essential for the smooth landing of IMO 2020.

I believe the Symposium provides an excellent opportunity for us to share our views at the start of that voyage.  I wish you all the very best and look forward to the interesting discussion ahead.

Thank you.