Shipping under pressure

Diane Gilpin from the Smart Green Shipping Alliance gives Splash readers a roundup of who said what in Paris.

There were 12 speakers. One a former president, two serving ministers of state – one from Norway, one from France. There were CEOs from national shipping associations, senior figures from the UN, International Energy Agency and WWF. There was a technology developer and a newbuilding manager. Ten of the speakers urged the IMO to adopt ambitious emission reduction regulations to rapidly decarbonise shipping. The two remaining speakers represented the IMO and ICS. They had the unenviable task of responding.

The elephant was in the room and had a front row seat.

Reasons for encouraging adoption of clear targets fell into distinct categories repeated by different people throughout the day. To avoid a really tedious report it may be helpful to summarise the key themes and attribute comments as we go along.

The overarching topic, as we are at the climate change conference, is hardly a surprise – Climate Change:

“The mother of all systems and if we don’t all address the challenges then none of our special systems will work effectively” (WWF).

“We have a moral responsibility – what kind of world will we leave the next generation? We have a common challenge, shared responsibility.” (Sturla Henrikson – Norwegian Shipowners Association)

“Emissions must peak by 2030 with 100% decarbonisation by the end of century to avoid 2o warming.” (UNFCCC)


On finance

“We are facing unstable financial, political and environmental systems all 3 must be tackled together.” (Jose Maria Figueres, Global Ocean Commission)

“Low oil price means we need urgent investment to stimulate new solutions.” (Louis Dreyfus – shipowners)

“Leave it and it will be more expensive and painful later.” (Paul Simons, International Energy Agency)


On business potential

“Innovation will reinvigorate the sector, making it fit for purpose in a low carbon world. Harnessing all skill-sets, intelligence in the sector making safer, more efficient and cleaner.” (Alain Vidales, Minister for Transport, France)

“Invest today for the future – long life assets.” (SH NSA)

“Investing in green shipping is one of Norway’s five key priority areas.” (Tine Sundtoft, Minister Climate and Environment, Norway)

“Global trade needs decarbonised shipping solutions to enable it to meet its own ambitious emission reduction targets via clean supply chains.” (Me)


On process

“If IMO doesn’t embrace the challenge of carbon reduction regulations will come from outside the industry by people with little understanding of sector’s complexity and be much more difficult/costly to manage.” (Alain Vidales, Minister for Transport, France)

“2.2% not so bad – but could do better.” (Gildas Maire, Armatuers de France)

“Shipping is considered a ‘small emitter’ – same as Germany which is fully committed to planned decarbonisation programme by 2050.” (UNFCCC)

“Regulations must come through IMO who have the opportunity now.” (GM, AdF)

“All sectors believe they are ‘special’ – cement; energy; steel…all are adopting rapid decarbonisation policies as part of a managed framework.” (UNFCCC)

“Need global regulatory framework to solve dilemma of reducing emissions whilst increasing trade.” (SH NSA)

“Aviation committed to carbon neutral growth by 2020, more proactive than shipping.” (UNFCCC)

“To stay below 2o must have 50% absolute reduction and intensified action from IMO.” (Paul Simons – International Energy Agency)

“All efficiency savings were identified and made during 2010-11 when market conditions were favourable. Already at EEDI target …now we need a step-change target which needs money invested and it must be through rules.” (Herve LaPierre, Louis Dreyfus)


The IMO and ICS absorbed the pressure stoically. Both Peter Hinchliffe (ICS) and Edmund Hughes (IMO) suggested shipping was misrepresented in the media and much maligned. Both pointed to the international energy efficiency agreements and, to be fair, most speakers had acknowledged this success. Hughes said he could see no technological or innovative response that could be applied to a large bulker operating in the North Atlantic in deep winter. These vessels were effectively mobile power stations and no change could be envisaged in the next 20-30 years.

Nonetheless I left with the sense that innovation is the key, it can bridge the gap between IMO and industry. We have opportunities to achieve ambitious emissions reduction whilst improving long term business opportunities, attracting a new generation of talented people inspired by taking on a global challenge which would secure much needed positive media. A new golden era of shipping.

As an innovator you might expect me to suffer from this type of confirmation bias but my confidence is inspired by Peter Hinchliffe who said: “We can and must do more, especially in innovations in short sea …I am confident innovation will come in to play.”

With stakes this high it’s imperative we find the middle ground and work together from there.

There’s a four-hour film of the whole event on You Tube – should you prefer to draw your own conclusions.


Splash is Asia Shipping Media’s flagship title offering timely, informed and global news from the maritime industry 24/7.
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