Shipping gets the Greta Thunberg treatment as crunch IMO talks get underway in London

Shipping got the Greta Thunberg treatment today. As delegates made their way this morning to the start of discussions at the London headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on how to reduce the industry’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions they were greeted by school kids inspired by the Swedish 16-year-old climate change actitvist, Thunberg, brandishing their own messages for urgent changes to the industry.

The climate school strike movement, initiated by Thunberg last summer, has gone global, bringing an estimated 1.5m children and young people onto the streets, demanding their governments act on climate change. This week, their spotlight turned on a new target, the global shipping industry as the intersessional working group on reduction of GHG emissions from ships kicked off at IMO this morning.

Today’s protests are being led by the UK Student Climate Network and feature Noga Levy-Rapoport, a 17-year-old Londoner, who has become one of Britain’s most high profile young climate change protesters. Levy-Rapoport is set to address delegates at the IMO headquarters today.

The network has come out in support of proposals led by France and Greece for the swift implementation of speed limits on shipping as a way to meet its 2030 target to slash CO2 emissions by 40% from 2008 levels, a measure that has also been backed by approximately 115 shipping CEOs who penned an open letter to the IMO at the end of April, ahead of this month’s gathering of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC).

“The shipping industry must … massively invest in and develop technologies for zero carbon vessels, powered by renewable electrofuels. But at this stage in the climate crisis we don’t have time to wait. If the IMO agrees this month to introduce global speed limits on shipping, this could cut emissions substantially with no delay,” the UK Student Climate Network stated in a release today.

Speaking with Splash today as she made her way to address delegates at IMO, Levy-Rapoport said: “The shipping industry, like all others, needs to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions rapidly. We live in a global economy and shipping plays an incredibly important part, the IMO and other powerful actors have a chance to take a proactive approach to reducing emissions and positioning the industry as forward-thinking and world-leading. If we’re to have any chance of providing a safe and equitable world for all, we need urgent and courageous action right away.”

As part of the planned protest today IMO delegates were expected to be presented with paper boats (pictured) made and decorated by school children, with their messages calling for action to be taken to reduce shipping’s carbon footprint.

The young protestors have been joined this morning in front of the IMO headquarters by a wide range of other protest groups including from Extinction Rebellion, the high profile, non-violent direct action and civil disobedience group launched last year.


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. Thank what ever gods you pray to for our children.
    1.5 to stay alive

  2. A Better idea – All ships at sea shud just stop for a 5 days every 10 days whilst on passage or make it easier stop every second day fr 24hrs.

  3. Clever Kids, appreciate their enthusiasm….but are THEY ready to pay more for their beloved I-Phone ? Oh wait, things like this come via the Ocean ??? Didnt realize…

    As long as the consumer is not ready to be part of the costs, it is blind to believe carriers will do everything alone. The mindset of all in the chain, carrier and consumers alike, have to Change.

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