Emission reductions must apply globally to all ships in the world fleet
Reductions in carbon emissions agreed to by the International Maritime Organization should apply globally to all ships no matter what flag they fly, IMO secretary-general Efthimios Mitropoulos said.
He was speaking at the second Singapore Maritime Lecture, where he made clear his stand on greenhouse gas emissions. Mr Mitropoulos acknowledged that there is ongoing debate over whether emission reductions agreed to by IMO should apply only to First World countries or should be extended to include all ships regardless of the flag they fly.
'My view on this is that, if reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from ships are to benefit the environment as a whole, they must apply globally to all ships in the world fleet,' he said.
The reality of the situation is that with First World-flagged tonnage representing just 25 per cent of shipping, the net benefit to the environment would be minimal if the rule applied to only these ships.
In addition, if control measures applied only to ships flagged in First World countries, there would likely be a rush to the non-First World ship registers, further reducing effectiveness, Mr Mitropoulos pointed out.
'To prevent this happening, with all its negative repercussions, we should develop a regime that will contribute positively, fairly and visibly to the endeavours of the international community as a whole to combat climate change - a regime whereby all IMO members engage in effectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping in its entirety,' he said.
Since MARPOL Annex VI (IMO's set of regulations which addresses atmospheric pollution issues) does not cover the emission of greenhouse gases from ships, IMO is working through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol to reduce these gases.
'We have established an ambitious but achievable action plan to that end and are now working towards the development and adoption of a robust regime that will regulate shipping at the global level and contribute to the slowing down of climate change,' said Mr Mitropoulos.
Good progress has been made this year by its Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), he said. 'These efforts are due to culminate in the expected adoption, in 2009, of a comprehensive package of technical and operational measures for all ships.'
This, he hoped, would successfully convey to the conference of parties to the UNFCCC, to be held in Copenhagen towards the end of next year, IMO's firm determination to protect and preserve the marine environment.
'Our goal is to deliver realistic and pragmatic solutions aimed at contributing substantively to worldwide efforts to address the phenomena of climate change and global warming. We must all play our part and we must work together if we are to achieve it,' Mr Mitropoulos said.