The shipping industry could only be environmentally sustainable if it is economically sustainable too was the main message by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), addressing government trade negotiators in the OECD Working Party on Shipbuilding, at a workshop on ‘green growth’ in Paris, on 20 November.
The everlasting challenge for shipowners is overcapacity, aided by government subsidies and support measures that encourage shipyards to produce ships that are surplus to requirements, according to ICS Director of Policy, Simon Bennett.
‘If governments are serious about helping the shipping industry deliver on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the OECD needs to reboot efforts to have a global agreement on the elimination of market distorting measures from shipbuilding. Despite being in existence for over 50 years it’s disappointing that the working party on shipbuilding has still made little progress, with the last round of negotiations on a new OECD agreement having been suspended several years ago.’
ICS also set out the progress that is being made to further improve the shipping industry’s environmental performance.
With regard to successfully implementing the UN IMO Ballast Water Management Convention, Mr Bennett said, whenever possible, shipowners should only install treatment systems that have been approved in accordance with the revised and more robust type-approval standards adopted by IMO in 2016, even though their use is not yet mandatory, in order to ensure that it would be fit for purpose in all operating conditions worldwide.
Regarding the 2020 global sulphur in fuel cap, ICS explained that in conjunction with other shipowner associations it is working on a proposal to IMO that the carriage of non-compliant bunker fuels should be banned in order to ensure fair competition.
On the development by IMO of a suitably ambitious strategy for the reduction of CO2 emissions by the international shipping sector, Mr Bennett said:
‘The vision of ICS is zero CO2 emissions as soon as possible using alternative fuels and new propulsion technologies. But so long as ships are dependent on fossils fuels, IMO Member States need to be both politically and technically realistic about what can be achieved in the short term if this is to compatible with the legitimate concerns of emerging economies about the impacts on trade and their sustainable development’.