London International Shipping Week: ICS - Setting the course for 2050: Powering the global trade

London International Shipping Week ICS - Setting the course for 2050: Powering the global trade

Speech by Kitack lim, Secretary-General, IMO

11 September 2019

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am grateful to the International Chamber of Shipping for the opportunity to speak to this important conference at what is fast becoming one of the landmark global events for the shipping industry – the London International Shipping Week.

Let me first say that, although certain issues always seem to dominate the headlines, IMO continues, to address an almost unimaginably wide range of shipping-related topics. By almost any measure, modern shipping is clean, environment-friendly, safe, and remarkably efficient.

All this is thanks, in no small part, to the comprehensive body of regulations and standards developed, through IMO, by our Member States. And the industry itself has been an active partner in the process – so let me begin by thanking the industry, on behalf of the Member States, for its role in this positive and productive collaboration. Together, we really have achieved a lot and, I am sure, will achieve in the future.

Let me turn now to IMO's work on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Let's start with the facts.

In 2018, IMO Member States adopted an initial strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping. This important agreement confirms the IMO's commitment to cutting GHG emissions – indeed, to phasing them out as soon as possible, in this century, as a matter of urgency.

By 2030, the strategy envisages a reduction of CO2 emissions per unit of transport work, as an average across international shipping, by at least 40%, pursuing efforts towards 70% by 2050, compared to 2008. It also envisages a reduction of total annual GHG emissions of at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, eventually phasing them out altogether. These levels of ambition fall within a pathway of emission reduction consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goals.

The strategy has identified a series of candidate short- mid- and long-term measures

The strategy builds on existing energy-efficiency measures adopted by IMO, which, I am sure, you will already be very familiar with; most notably the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI)  mandatory for new ships, and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP), and there is also the mandatory scheme to collect fuel-oil consumption data, which got underway at the beginning of this year.

You will probably also be aware that, earlier this year, IMO approved draft amendments to strengthen the EEDI requirements, specifically to bring forward the entry-into-effect date of phase 3 to 2022, from 2025, for several ship types, including gas carriers, general cargo ships and LNG carriers. For the largest containerships, the EEDI reduction rate will be set at 50%, from 2022.

So, let's put all this into context. In 2012, IMO's third GHG study estimated that CO2 emissions from international shipping were around 800 million tonnes - or approximately 2.2% of global emissions. That's a significant contribution. The fourth IMO GHG study, due to be presented next year, will tell us whether that figure has changed significantly. But whatever it reveals, the amount will still, inevitably, be significant.

How will the targets be achieved?

In the short-term, concrete measures will be considered this November in the following areas: improving existing ships' operational energy efficiency, reducing methane slip, encouraging National Action Plans and encouraging the uptake of alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels.

I would like to recall the priority set in the strategy for potential early measures that could achieve further reduction of GHG emissions from international shipping before 2023.

In this regard, I would encourage industry bodies to continue engaging constructively with Member States so that IMO can develop strengthened regulations for existing ships that would both be in line with the strategy and take into account implementation aspects. 

The targets set out in the strategy will not be met using fossil fuels only. Indeed, it is expected to drive a new propulsion revolution. A zero-carbon future requires a great deal of research and development. So, as well as the regulatory imperative, there is a need to make zero-carbon ships more attractive and to direct investments towards innovative sustainable technologies and alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels. 

There are already strong signs emerging that some sectors of the industry are really grasping this. Battery powered and hybrid ferries, ships trialling biofuels or hydrogen fuel cells, wind-assisted propulsion and several other ideas are now being actively explored. The IMO GHG strategy has sent a clear signal to innovators that this is the way forward. However, action needs to be accelerated if its goals are to be achieved.

I also would like to highlight the increasing cooperation and collaboration between IMO and IAPH. The Organization adopted earlier this year a resolution encouraging cooperation between the port and shipping sectors to contribute to reducing GHG emissions from ships.

Alongside the regulatory developments, IMO is also engaged in several major, global projects. These bring Member States and the industry together to promote understanding and implementation of all the various IMO measures related to GHG reduction.

The Global Industry Alliance to Support Low Carbon Shipping, the Global Maritime Technology Network or GMN project and the recently launched GreenVoyage-2050 all confirm IMO's commitment to practical assistance to help ensure the regulatory process is not just a paper exercise but makes a real difference. 

In addition, IMO' multi-donor trust fund for GHG was established in 2019, to provide a dedicated source of financial support for technical cooperation and capacity-building activities to help implement the IMO GHG Strategy.

Hopefully many of you here have, or will have, participated in some of these initiatives.

IMO is progressing on the automation agenda as well as the environmental regulations. And it is to be recognised that these measures are having a important impact to the shipping industry. And I would like to appreciate the support and cooperation provided by the industry, a recognition to their contrition to the work of IMO which should be widely recognised, whilst we continue to strive to develop appropriate regulations without introducing unnecessary burden to the shipping industry.

Ladies and gentlemen,

despite all of this, it is vital that we never lose the broader perspective. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said "Climate disruption is progressing even faster than the world's top scientists have predicted. It is outpacing our efforts to address it. Climate change is running faster than we are."

So, let us be in no doubt - we really need to accelerate our efforts towards the ultimate goal of phasing out GHG emissions from international shipping.

Thank you.