Friday, 5 August 2011

Stepping off the plank

On the 15th July 2011, the world’s first globally binding climate change initiative for an international industry sector was adopted by the UN’s International Maritime Organisation. It was a fraught and complex agreement that although welcomed by Seas At Risk, is seen only as the first step towards tackling GHG emissions from the shipping sector. Below is the statement of the Clean Shipping Coalition, of which Seas At Risk is a founding member, made shortly after the measure was adopted:

“The [Energy Efficiency Design Index] EEDI is about setting energy efficiency standards for a leading global industry which will reduce long-term costs and environmental impacts. When setting fuel efficiency standards in other transport modes, industry has invariably resisted vehemently. To its great credit, the shipping industry is largely on-board with the EEDI.

Ironically, the difficulty here has not been with industry, nor has any lack of technology been a problem, nor has it been about differences in levels of development between developed and developing countries - ships built in developing countries are some of the most advanced and innovative. Rather the difficulty has been about the political positions of some in other UN forums, and the misconception of others that consensus on its own is a worthy objective. These concerns, regrettably, have seriously undermined the effectiveness of the world’s first globally binding climate change initiative.

During the almost 7 year phase-in period of EEDI, shipping GHG emissions, by the Organisation’s own estimates, will have almost doubled to 6% of global emissions. Environmental NGOs supported this process from the beginning in the belief that the potential for improvements in ship efficiency is significant particularly as many measures can be taken at zero or low cost to industry. Those possibilities risk being set aside with this decision.

If there is a rush to have all new ships take advantage of the waiver by flagging them with obliging registries, this will have enormous implications for the administration of all sorts of IMO rules and conventions, endangering both the environment and seafarer safety.

The CSC therefore calls on all enlightened ship-owners to put the question of delay aside and implement immediately the EEDI as good business sense and sound environmental practice. We call on the European Union to embrace the EEDI as an effective instrument to complement other measures it is now considering. We call on shippers, the logistics industry and harbours to use the EEDI when taking decisions on chartering and when setting port dues.

Mr Chairman, as difficult as today’s decision seems to have been, it is only the IMO's first step to address shipping’s climate change impact. A package of additional market-based and operational measures such as emissions trading, a levy, speed limits and mandatory cuts is urgently needed to properly address the rapidly growing emissions from shipping. This work on existing ships is almost in its 15th year and needs to be accelerated urgently.“ The Clean Shipping Coalition.