- IMO agreement is crucial

The IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee meets in London next week to reach accord on a climate agreement for shipping. “It is crucial that the IMO now come to agreement on a strategy for reducing CO2 emissions. This will send an important signal to the market that low-emission technology is the future of shipping,” states Norwegian Shipowners’ Association CEO Harald Solberg.

The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association has for years championed an ambitious agreement in the IMO. In 2016, the Shipowners’ Association adopted a CO2 position in keeping with the Paris Agreement. This entails that the industry reduce its emissions by 50 per cent by 2050, and eliminate CO2 emissions by 2100.

The stage is set for tough negotiations when IMO member countries gather in London to adopt an agreement on reducing CO2 emissions from shipping. Several proposals have been tabled, and expectations are high. If the agreement is not sufficiently ambitious, the EU has warned that it will enact regional regulations on emissions. Implementing regional regulations to address an international problem would be viewed as highly unfortunate.

“For us it is important to stick to the principle that shipping be a globally regulated industry,” says Solberg. “Different regulations from different flag states would mean in practice that ships could be re-flagged to avoid stricter emissions regulations. This would be highly unfortunate and demanding for the industry to deal with, and certainly not a viable path if our ambition is for climate politics to contribute to a significant reduction in emissions.

“As an industry, we must prepare ourselves for the transition to a low-emission society on the same terms as all other industries," says Solberg. “ Agreement on a common CO2 strategy in the IMO will send a clear signal to the market that the industry will increasingly demand fuel and solutions with the smallest possible carbon footprint. A common framework for emissions reduction will mean that we can achieve this without upsetting the balance of competition.

"We have faith that the IMO will succeed in reaching accord on an ambitious and clear CO2 strategy. However, regardless of requirements and regulations, Norwegian shipping companies are well underway with emissions reduction. The maritime industry in Norway can lead the way in the development of environmentally friendly technology. We may not produce electric cars in Norway, but we are leaders in technology for low-emission ships. We see more opportunities than obstacles,” Solberg concludes.

The new climate agreement for shipping is expected to be adopted on 13 April 2018.