Sekimizu urges industry to stand up and show leadership on the environment

In appropriately stormy conditions outside, the outgoing secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization kicked off the Danish Maritime Forum with a surprisingly frank address.

Koji Sekimizu, the Japanese IMO boss, speaking at the Copenhagen cruise centre where waves were lashing the harbour metres away, said: “The shipping industry is still facing rough seas and many challenges.” He said shipping was still in an adjustment period, though the difficulties it faced were nothing new, he said referring to the recession that gripped the industry in the 1970s. Adjustment will be “a long, long process”, he said.

Sekimizu used the stage, which serves as the centerpiece of this week’s Danish Maritime Days, to exhort the shipping industry to get its act together over the environment before it loses the chance to shape debate.

With the crucial United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris coming up at the end of next month, Sekimizu said shipping had to stand up and show what changes it had already made and how it was tackling environmental issues.

“We need to stand up and indicate to the world that [the] shipping industry and IMO has made significant measures,” he said. In his opinion, it is feasible that ships by 2030 could have reduced emissions by more than 30%.

“The shipping industry should take some leadership,” he urged, before adding: “IMO will maybe take some measures to ensure a level playing field.”

Shipping lines should reveal their exact environmental targets, he said. He criticized Japan’s Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) for not stating on its website exactly what it intends to cut its emissions by, whereas he praised Maersk for setting exact goals.

“Before we move into low carbon and low sulphur shiupping, [the] shipping industry will take leadership,” Sekimizu said.

Sekimizu also said improving shipping’s image was vital to handle the likely shortage of seafarers going forward.

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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