Shipping is making a massive contribution to global prosperity
Opening the fifty-eighth session of IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee the UN body's secretary general has stressed that he believes IMO is the right forum to decide how global shipping should respond to the challenge of controlling greenhouse gas emissions.
He said: ?I turn now to the more complex and challenging item currently facing the world at large and, as far as we are concerned, this Committee and, arguably, the Organization as a whole: the issue of climate change, which, you may be aware, the United Nations Secretary-General has singled out as ?the defining challenge of our age.?
He said: ?Shipping is a formidable force behind sustainable development, making a massive contribution to global prosperity with only a modest negative impact on the global environment, as both the 2000, and the one underway to update the former study on greenhouse gas emissions from shipping, have demonstrated. Poor and rich nations benefit from seaborne trade and many developing countries have become major players in the industry itself ? an industry that has become a fast growing sector that responds satisfactorily to the increasing need for trans-oceanic and regional transport in an expanding world economy. Projections of future scenarios on global trade, by IPCC and UNCTAD, as well as other UN-based entities and recognized independent scientific bodies, predict that sea transport will continue to grow for the foreseeable future and, therefore, a total reduction in greenhouse gas emissions seems very difficult and almost impossible to achieve were it left for the shipping sector to attempt in isolation.?
The IMO chief told delegates to MEPC, ?On the proposed ?emissions trading scheme? or ?fuel levy? mechanisms that will occupy much of your time this week, I think the Committee should, before it makes up its mind thereon, come up with clear answers to two fundamental questions.?
He added that ?a challenging hurdle in the debate? has been the question of whether greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping should be regulated by IMO or whether this should be negotiated under the wider climate debate currently taking place within the context of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol.
Mr Mitropoulos added: ?Given that shipping is unique in many ways ? not least in its international character ? the Kyoto Protocol has, wisely in my opinion, left the task of pursuing the reduction or limitation of GHG emissions from shipping to IMO and, through it, to those who understand its special characteristics and peculiarities (not only its needs but also its duties) better than those who, for the lack of expert knowledge and proper understanding, might damage it, and eventually damage the services it provides to international trade and the world economy. To put it simply, shipping cannot, and should not, be put in the same basket with other activities that can, within the global efforts to address global warming and climate change, be regulated through domestic or regional legislation.?
?I see no compelling reason,? Mr Mitropoulos said, ? why we should, in any way, depart from that arrangement in the future. That is why I think that it would be beneficial were we to agree to advise the Copenhagen Conference in December of next year accordingly. It would, again in my opinion, be unwise to allow shipping to be treated as an industry belonging to the same league as industries of domestic spread and application. If this were to happen, we would run the risk of losing control of the situation at a time when we are determined to do a lot about the environment ? and this would end up with rendering a disservice not only to the industry but to the environment as well.?