London International Shipping Week Headline Conference

London International Shipping Week Headline Conference

Speech by Kitack Lim, Secretary-General, IMO 

12 September 2019

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,

I am grateful for the opportunity to share a few thoughts and words with you on this important and prestigious occasion.

There is no doubt that London is a centre of considerable influence within the global shipping community, giving this week of London-based activities and events, a significance far beyond the city itself.

As a specialized agency of the United Nations, IMO's vision and strategy is clearly aligned with global efforts to improve the lives of people everywhere.

Today, action on these values is focused around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. Helping our Member States achieve the 2030 Agenda is one of our key goals.

SDG 14, dealing with the oceans, is central to IMO. But aspects of our work can be linked to all the SDGs. Most of the elements of the 2030 Agenda will only be realized with a sustainable transport sector, including shipping and ports, supporting world trade and facilitating the global economy. 

This is one of the busiest and probably most significant periods in IMO's long history. Let me highlight just a few of the topics currently on IMO's agenda.

First, IMO 2020, as it has become universally known. The 2020 entry into force of the new global sulphur limit of 0.5 per cent for ships' fuel oil was first adopted in 2008 and confirmed again in 2016. It has been a long time coming and is now fast approaching.

IMO has worked hard, with Member States and the shipping and bunker supply industries, to support the implementation of this important, global, rule. Detailed and comprehensive implementation guidelines have been developed, for the shipping industry, for fuel oil suppliers and for Member States.

Ultimately, compliance rests with the industry, while monitoring and enforcement are the responsibility of the IMO Member States. I get a clear sense that the Member States and the industry are taking this responsibility very seriously indeed.

I am confident that the implementation date on 1 January 2020 will be managed smoothly.

IMO adopted the new Sulphur limit because of its far-reaching beneficial effects on the environment and human health. It clearly demonstrates IMO's continuing commitment to the well‑being of the planet and its inhabitants.

The same is true of our work on addressing climate change. The initial strategy adopted last year is a major policy commitment for a drastic reduction of GHG emissions from ships, with a specific linkage to the Paris Agreement, and clear levels of ambition – including at least a 50 per cent cut in emissions from the sector by 2050, compared to 2008.

I cannot stress strongly enough how significant this target is. 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 significant. However, as global trade and maritime transport are expected to grow significantly in the coming years, to achieve the specified targets, ships currently at sea would have to reduce their emissions by more than 80%. The reduction target agreed signifies a tangible trajectory towards the decarbonisation of shipping.

How will the targets be achieved? In the short-term, IMO will consider concrete measures in the following areas: improvement of the operational energy efficiency of existing ships, reduction of methane slip, encouragement of National Action Plans and encouragement of the uptake of alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels.

The targets set out in the strategy will not be met using fossil fuels only, which is why this strategy is expected to drive a new propulsion revolution. This 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, actions need to be accelerated if its goals are to be achieved. 

The decade 2020-2030 needs to be a decade of action and delivery on these goals.

The Climate Summit, on 23 September, will provide excellent opportunity to highlight the contribution of the shipping industry to sustainable development and as such I welcome the "Getting to Zero Industry Coalition" and other Member State and Industry commitments to showcase during the Summit, how we can achieve the ambitions of the IMO 2050 Initial Strategy.

Alongside the regulatory developments, IMO is also engaged in several major, global projects.

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 actually makes a real difference. 

These projects bring Member States and the industry together to promote understanding and implementation of all the various IMO measures related to GHG reduction.

This year, IMO also established a multi-donor trust fund for GHG 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.

Ladies and gentlemen,

the world relies on the shipping industry. And, of course, it's vital that the process of making shipping safer, greener and more efficient does not jeopardize global trade.  

That's why it's so important that the rules and regulations for shipping must be adopted and implemented globally, through IMO. This creates a level playing field across the entire industry.

Shipping needs high standards and strong regulations to operate effectively in the modern world – and that is exactly the vital function IMO was created by to perform the international community.

Thank you.