IMO Symposium on alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels

9-10 February 2021 - Opening remarks by the Secretary-General, Kitack Lim

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, 

It is my pleasure to welcome you to IMO's Symposium on alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels for ships.

Combating climate change is one of IMO's main priorities but also one of the biggest challenges, in particular for shipping. During this symposium we will present various promising solutions that would have potential to pave the way to reaching the GHG reduction goals, as set out in IMO's Initial GHG Strategy.

I find it very encouraging to see how the adoption of IMO's Initial GHG Strategy and its ambitious goal to decarbonize shipping by the end of this century, has sparked so many new actions across the maritime value chain related to alternative low-carbon fuels, in parallel with our regulatory work.

To achieve the goals set out in the GHG Strategy, IMO, as the global regulator of shipping, is demonstrating its commitment to the decarbonization of shipping by developing an ambitious regulatory framework, that will drive innovation across all stakeholders but also by providing a forum for discussion, cooperation and collaboration.

To reach a low- and zero-carbon future for shipping, we will need new technologies, new fuels and innovation.

Exciting research and development into low- and zero-carbon marine fuels is already underway. IMO wants to further accelerate such initiatives by providing the global forum for sharing knowledge, to promote R&D, and to build partnerships between stakeholders, among public and private sectors, not only in the shipping industry and ports but also private and development banks, and academia at international, national and local levels.

No single stakeholder can make decarbonization of shipping a reality by acting alone. The programme of this symposium therefore emphasizes the importance of building partnerships and connecting the different actors in the maritime value chain.

Just last November, IMO demonstrated that, despite the very difficult situation imposed by COVID, we are able to make progress through cooperation, by approving the short-term GHG reduction measure in a virtual meeting.

Acting together, we can define the strategic, regulatory and policy frameworks that is needed to attract the necessary investments, to put in place the required infrastructure and to ensure a safe use of low- and zero-carbon fuels.

There are leaders in this journey in the world, the 'climate champions', and some of them will present their latest innovations during this symposium.

At the same time, IMO wants to ensure that no country is left behind in the energy transition, and therefore this symposium also serves to highlight the opportunities for Member States to share knowledge of generating and supplying renewable marine fuels across the world and identify potential areas of collaboration and cooperation.

To support this, IMO continues to expand its portfolio of capacity building projects, which are in line with IMO's ambitious goal in the GHG Strategy.

For instance, IMO's GreenVoyage 2050 project focuses on assisting developing countries in achieving the levels of ambition set out in the IMO GHG Strategy by exploring alternative fuel opportunities.

Our NextGEN initiative provides a concept for a collaborative global ecosystem of maritime decarbonization initiatives, aiming to facilitate information sharing on decarbonization initiatives across many stakeholders and to identify opportunities and gaps for decarbonization in the global shipping community.

IMO, together with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank have also established a FIN-SMART roundtable with leaders from financial, public and private sectors, an initiative launched to discuss and address financial challenges to deal with climate change and the COVID-19 recovery in the maritime sector, particularly in developing countries.

Ladies and gentleman,

IMO's GHG Strategy has sent a clear signal that it is time for the energy transition in shipping with alternative fuels and the infrastructure to support low- and zero-emission of shipping.

The route to net zero carbon shipping will not be easy. Nonetheless, I am hopeful that the range of initiatives presented during this symposium will demonstrate what is already underway, but also underline what more is needed to accelerate zero-carbon shipping.

Maritime trade is vital to the world's sustainable development. So, let's use this symposium to reinforce existing partnerships and to create new opportunities to work together to enable a sustainable post-pandemic recovery and to ensure that shipping has a truly sustainable, decarbonized future.

I am confident that our presentations and discussions today and tomorrow will benefit us all and will showcase our commitment to the decarbonization of shipping.

Thank you.