The editor has been hassling me for my impressions on last week’s Posidonia so here goes.
The most important, which was noted by many observers, is that the leaders of most Greek shipping organisations, who spoke on and off the record, are ‘oppositionists’. They are opposed, vocally, to the decisions made at the Paris climate change negotiations (COP 21) and, they are opposed to any tightening of ballast water regulations, anywhere in the world, other than those already agreed at the IMO. In fact, they reject any further regulation that will increase the cost of vessel operation. Whether these views extend to rank-and-file Greek shipowners is another question.
The mood in Posidonia resembled Lord Haig’s message to the British army in the blackest hours of 1918: “With our backs to the wall…” The attitude not only of Greek but of foreign shipowners was: we can handle whatever misfortune sends our way.
If the present climate of defiance extends to the global sector as a whole, shipping may well be on the outside looking in, as climate change negotiations move ahead. My opinion is that rejectionism, from whatever source, will not win the day, either against the regulators of the European Union or the various MOUs.
For the Greeks, the attitude of defiance holds a lot to the political climate in their country, which is beginning to resemble that in the perhaps not-much longer United Kingdom: A determination to face down ‘power-hungry bureaucrats’, wherever they may be found.
The mood in Piraeus, therefore, can be summed up in the words of a Confederate general during the US Civil War: “March to the sound of the guns!”
In that case, they lost the war.