New coalition demands Europe takes the lead over IMO on emissions

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has failed to clean up shipping’s carbon footprint so the European Union ought to take the lead, a new coalition of protestors have said at a noisy protest outside the European Parliament in Brussels today.

Politicians in Brussels are due to discuss shipping emission regulations today.

Sort Your Ship Out, a new coalition of shipping-focused climate activists, chose the middle of European Shipping Week to make their protests heard.

Describing the IMO as a “corporate-captured UN agency” Sort Your Ship Out today said the London body had been too slow to enact greenhouse gas reduction regulations and Europe must now take action.

“There is still no meaningful CO2 reduction regulation in place, 23 years after the Kyoto Protocol handed responsibility to the IMO in 1997. In a climate emergency, this situation is insane. We don’t have time left,” the protesters stated in a release.

The European Parliament Transport Committee meets today to discuss regulation of the emissions from shipping as part of the revisions of its Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) regulation.

The activists at Sort Your Ship Out urged that today marked the moment for the EU to act to make rules for shipping to pay for its emissions, and create a maritime fund to build the zero emission ships of the future.

Most international shipping bodies have voiced concern about regional regulations coming into place, urging for the IMO to continue in its role as a global regulator.

“We wish to support continuing IMO leadership on GHG emissions and quickly incentivise further action by shipping companies,” Esben Poulsson, chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), said at the lobby group’s last annual general meeting.

However, Sort Your Ship Out is determined to get Brussels to act fast.

“The Secretary General of the corporate-captured IMO, Kitack Lim, is coming to Brussels to lobby MEPs on Thursday this week – probably hoping to kill off more ambitious regional climate action. The EU must stand up for its right, and duty, to take the lead in cleaning up this sector against vested interests,” the new coalition stated.

Matt Mellen from ecological news site, Ecohustler, and a member of the Sort Your Ship Out coalition, said today: “The EU needs to sort its ships out. It’s not normal that shipping gets a free pass to pollute because regulators fail to address ships’ climate impact. So little has been done through the IMO to date, it’s urgent that Europe regulates shipping’s pollution.”

Rene Visser, a member of Extinction Rebellion in Rotterdam and another founding member of the coaltion, added: “We’re in a climate emergency, we should stop joking around and fix this problem. The IMO isn’t taking this seriously, they’re rejecting proposals to slow down ships, it is critical for Europe to take the lead and act now on shipping emissions.”

The new president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has come out in favour of introducing emissions trading for shipping as part of plans to make Europe the first climate neutral continent by 2050.


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.
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