Norway makes its position clear ahead of MEPC

Norway’s government and its shipowners have made their position clear on shipping greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as heated debate continues at the London headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) over the future of the industry.

Harald Solberg, head of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association, held a joint news conference with trade minister Torbjoern Rooe Isaksen in Oslo yesterday in which the pair said shipping should halve its GHG emissions by 2050.

Next week sees the 72nd gathering of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) at the IMO with GHG legislation high up on the agenda.

“Emissions should be reduced by 50% towards 2050 compared to 2008,” Solberg said yesterday, adding: “In the same period demand will increase by maybe 60%, so in absolute terms it’s more than a half.”

“We need international rules … our base line is the same as the Norwegian Shipowners (to cut emissions by 50 percent towards 2050),” trade minister Isaksen told Reuters at the press conference.

“We hope the IMO will agree on these ambitious emission targets. That is the only solution, if not we fear regional solutions, and that will not work,” Solberg added.

In preparation for the upcoming MEPC, this week has seen the intersessional working group on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships meeting at IMO’s London headquarters. Splash understands debate has been more heated than normal, with Brazil and Saudi Arabia making the most vocal calls to water down the timing and severity of any GHG emission cutting goals.

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.


  1. Sad to see Norway let the side down so badly but explains why the ISWG Chair is so comfortable driving restlessly toward a low ambition approach to the Initial strategy. Hard to see the math that couples toward 50% by 2050 with the target Norway signed to at Paris adding up. Or how this meets any agreed definition of ambitious. Kind of hard to swallow after all the proactive leadership proclaimed by Norway at COP21 and at last years UN Ocean Summit.

    Norway was the first developed state to ratify Paris. Ahead of COP21 the Norwegian president was screaming for a carbon tax and an end to fuel subsidies. The President was quoted as saying that Norway is a driving force to get as many countries as possible to ratify as soon as possible and pledging to work with EU to drive the most ambitious targets.

    Two short years later at the IMO …..

  2. The Whaling Museum in Sandefjord includes an exhibit from Hong Kong, contributed by Tim Huxley. It’s a T shirt from a pub, more than twenty years old, emblazoned with the words “Save the Whales – Harpoon a Norwegian!”

    We need a new version – perhaps “Save the World – harpoon a Norwegian!”

    There are times, and their attempt to keep on whaling was one -. when those rich, sanctimonious Norwegians, with their three houses and a boat per household, their bestowing of the Nobel Peace Prize and their haranguing of lesser nations on the subject of human rights, show themselves in a much less admirable light. This is another one.

    This is the most shameful act in the recent history of Norway.

    The Norwegian Government have been “nobbled” by the undesirable elements in the Norwegian shipowning business, and they don’t even try to hide the fact. To see the Trade Minister, Isaksen, show up at a Press conference with Solberg, the head of the Shipowners Association, three days after the publication of the preliminary TI report on the governance of the IMO, which makes the point about improper commercial influence on the Governments of member states, shows not just a tin ear for world opinion but utter contempt for what “lesser breeds without the oil” may care about.

    If you don’t have a harpoon handy, you can always try “Save the World – Shame a Norwegian!”

    And stuff your Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square.Leave it standing to use up a little of your carbon dioxide. .

  3. Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Norway and the like need to remember that as a block, Pacific Island countries make up quite a few members of the U.N.. which is why you see their diplomats coming to the Pacific whenever a UN vote for some position or other is on the table. If you extend that to Small Island Development States, as a block they could ensure that none of these countries ever wins another vote in the U.N.. Because they also need to know that although we may seem nice and gentle, we have long memories. Small island developing states need an ambitious outcome in the IMO. The whole world does … it’s just that climate change has not had the same impact on some countries as it has on the islands…. but it will get to them too… sooner than they think.

  4. Crumbling edifice one may see.
    Empires and coalitions are not destroyed from without until they have destroyed themselves from within.
    Re traitors, remind me ……..who was Kim Philby or Benedict Arnold?

  5. Hasn’t Norway just been conducting a major diplomatic push to gain Pacific votes for a Norwegian UN seat recently? I wonder how their IMO position is weighted against their need for the Pacific endorsement of the 2020 Security Council bid. Pacific needs to think carefully. Climate change is a global security issue. But would Norway support this if it came up on their watch if this is the best they can offer for shipping?

  6. Certain people in these comments might need to take a chill pill.

    Even so, it’s surprising and a bit disappointing to see my government take such a conservative stance on this topic – particular in these days of “Equinor” (what a ridiculous name btw) and attempts of white-washing of the Norwegian oil legacy. Put at least some of your money where your mouths are…

    Moreover, Norwegian engineering/technology/shipyard companies and domestic shipping/ferry companies are quite far ahead in terms of low/no-carbon shipping and developing and applying cutting edge technology. Supporting and pushing for an aggressive stance on de-carbonisation globally would support this budding industry, which contributes more to the Norwegian economy than the members of the Norwegian Shiponwers Association, which mostly flag and man with FOCs.

    1. I did say “the recent history of Norway”!

      The Whaling Museum is very good – and its curatorial staff have a sense of humour… more of a sense of humour than those who rebranded “Statoil” as “Equinor”

      Being serious, you make a good point about the Norwegian maritime engineering and shipbuilding sector.

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