MEPC delegates warned about growing threat of regional regulations

The first day of the 76th gathering of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) proceeded relatively smoothly on Thursday despite constraints made by the virtual nature of the summit.

The draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI were discussed and forwarded to the drafting group. It was agreed the entry into force date of the amendments to MARPOL Annex VI will be November 1 2022.

Opening the meeting, Kitack Lim, secretary general of IMO, warned delegates about the growing threat of regional regulations, urging member states to make strong progress in the coming days to find green solutions for shipping.

“Let me be blunt, failure is not an option, as if we fail in our quest, it is not unreasonable to conclude that we run the risk of having unilateral or multilateral initiatives,” Lim said.

This is the first MEPC since Joe Biden assumed power in the US, signalling a huge change in America’s position on greenhouse gases and shipping with US climate czar John Kerry determined to make the industry zero emissions by 2050. Moreover, in Europe, the inclusion of shipping in the European Union’s emissions trading scheme is moving inexorably closer while the IMO has had to contend with the fallout from a recent exposé into shipping emissions and how the sector is governed in a documentary called Black Trail.

“No single stakeholder can make decarbonisation of shipping a reality by acting alone,” Lim maintained, adding: “With your strong commitment to finalizing the short-term measure at this session as a key starting point and agreeing on a way forward to structure future discussions, IMO will demonstrate that it is on the right pathway of GHG reduction consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goals. It will also reinforce the message that IMO is the only global forum to address climate-friendly maritime transport to any sceptic who might think otherwise.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


    The warning by IMO Chief comes when the Regionalization of the one side of the Atlantic is a fact. Unilateral initiatives are expected to be taken up on the other side of the Atlantic following the change of US Policy prompted by the exposed irrational IMO regulations among sluggishness and procrastination or pullbacks from environmental decisions of urgency. At the moment the path to decarbonization is still hidden in the bushes of uncertainty and options must be decided now. The proclaimed by the IMO Chief “inability of the Industry to make decarbonization by acting alone” comes also too late when the lethargy of IMO the last 10 years forced the Industry to adopt the motto: “Every man for himself, and the devil takes the hindmost”.
    The Industry is waiting to see that no pullback, no irrational regulation will be dragging back the Industry towards 2030 and beyond…The question is not about the “environmentally friendly Industry” as the Chief proclaimed, but the “environmentally disciplined Industry”.

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