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Maritime Industry's Eco Achievements Heralded

by Amanda Banks,, London

21 June 2012

At the high level 'Oceans Day' event during the United Nations 'Rio+20' Summit on Sustainable Development, the International Chamber of Shipping presented the views of the world's merchant shipowners regarding the importance of a global approach to delivering green growth, and highlighted the industry's substantial achievements to date.

On behalf of the ICS - the principal international trade association for shipowners, representing over 80% of the world merchant fleet - the organization's Regulatory Affairs Director, David Tongue, told Rio + 20 delegates:

“Shipping carries about 90% of world trade but is already by far the greenest form of commercial transport producing between 40 and 100 times less CO2 per tonne of cargo moved one kilometre than cargo aviation and significantly less than trains and trucks. Shipping is the only industrial sector already to be covered by a binding international agreement for the further reduction of CO2 emissions, which will deliver a 20% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020.”

“Other international sectors concerned with the oceans could learn a great deal from the way in which the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) successfully regulates shipping.”

The ICS used the UN Summit to explain that without the low cost of transport provided by modern shipping, the movement of raw materials and energy, in bulk, to wherever they are needed, and the transport of manufactured goods and products between continents would simply not be possible.

It was noted that without shipping, Asia's economic engine would not have grown at such a rapid rate. The industry has facilitated massive improvements in living standards in this region, with more limited environmental damage than other transport forms would have allowed.

In his speech, Tongue pointed out that the shipping industry had over 100 years’ experience of international governance of its activities, and that the regulatory framework provided by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has served the oceans well. By way of example, the ICS reported that the number of significant oil spills has decreased from 233 per year in the 1970s to just 31 per year during the last 10 years, while the volume of maritime trade had more than tripled during the same period. This is because IMO environmental regulations are genuinely implemented and enforced on a global basis through a combination of flag state and port state control, he said.

The ICS advised that as a result of recent IMO regulation, the sulphur content of ships’ fuel will be cut dramatically in emission control areas in 2015, and throughout the world’s oceans with effect from 2020. This is in addition to the new rules adopted to reduce shipping’s CO2 emissions that will come into force in January 2013, which will amend the MARPOL convention to make mandatory the Energy Efficiency Design Index, which introduces stringent environmental guidelines on new ship builds with capacity above 400 gross tons.

In concluding, it was stressed that because shipping is an inherently global industry - indeed the first truly global industry - it is vital for governments to recognize the importance of uniform international rules. It was said that if different rules concerning ship operation or environmental protection were to apply at different ends of a voyage there would be chaos, reducing the smooth flow of global trade. Against this background the ICS endorsed the work of the IMO.

TAGS: marine

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