Attempting to keep the general public and regulators at bay, the world’s top shipowning bodies today preempted the growing environmental focus on shipping by coming up with their own concept for a multi-billion dollar research and development fund to cut emissions.
The global maritime transport industry, via eight lobby groups, has submitted a proposal to form the world’s first collaborative shipping R&D programme to help eliminate CO2 emissions from international shipping.
The proposal includes the setup of a new non-governmental R&D organisation called the International Maritime Research and Development Board (IMRB) to pave the way for the decarbonisation of shipping.
The IMRB will be financed by shipping companies worldwide via a mandatory R&D contribution of $2 per tonne of marine fuel purchased, which will generate a reported approximate $5bn in core funding over a 10-year period.
The proposal will be discussed by governments in London at the headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO)at the next meeting of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) in March 2020 .
“The coalition of industry associations behind this proposal are showing true leadership. The shipping industry must reduce its CO2 emissions to meet the ambitious challenge that the International Maritime Organization has set. Innovation is therefore vital if we are to develop the technologies that will power the 4th Propulsion Revolution. This proposal is simple, accountable and deliverable and we hope governments will support this bold move,” said Esben Poulsson, chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).
Guy Platten, secretary general of ICS, cited the teenage Swedish environmental campaigner, Greta Thunberg, in stressing the importance of today’s announcement and why global shipping ought to sign up to the proposal with haste.
“We must not leave it to others to carry the burden of addressing the climate crisis. Nor will we ask others to decide the future of maritime. We embrace our responsibility, and we ask the world’s governments to support our efforts,” Platten said. “Greta Thunberg is right to say that creative accounting and clever PR often lie behind supposed commitments to sustainability, but our plans are transparent, and our regulator has teeth. Now we ask the wider shipping community for their blessing. Change on this scale is difficult and often daunting. But in this case, it could not be more necessary,”
As well as ICS, the proposal has been submitted by BIMCO, Cruise Lines International Association, Intercargo, Interferry, Intertanko, the International Parcel Tankers Association and the World Shipping Council.
Today’s announcement has not received universal acclaim with a host of NGOs arguing that the $5bn figure is still too small. Transport & Environment, a Brussels-based NGO, claimed the $2 per tonne of fuel proposed figure is 42 times less than current CO2 prices in Europe.