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ICS urges IMO action to avoid sulphur cap 'chaos'

Warns of 'unholy mess with ships and cargo being stuck in port'; calls on EC to respect CO2 reduction strategy.



Esben Poulsson, chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). Image credit: International Chamber of Shipping (ICS)


Updated on 21 May 2018 11:58 GMT

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has once again issued a warning message to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) regarding the upcoming 0.5 percent cap on the sulphur content of marine fuel in 2020.

In a statement, issued on Monday, ICS said it fears "chaos and confusion" unless the IMO urgently resolves "some serious issues" concerning the 2020 cap.

It follows a similar announcement made by ICS earlier this month, where it raised concerns over 2020 fuel availability and agreed standards, and called on the IMO to "urgently resolve" these issues within the next 18 months.

Speaking from Hong Kong, where the Annual General Meeting of ICS's member national shipowner associations met last week, ICS chairman Esben Poulsson remarked: "The shipping industry fully supports the IMO global sulphur cap and the positive environmental benefits it will bring, and is ready to accept the significant increase in fuel costs that will result. But unless a number of serious issues are satisfactorily addressed by governments within the next few months, the smooth flow of maritime trade could be dangerously impeded.

"It is still far from certain that sufficient quantities of compliant fuels will be available in every port worldwide by 1 January 2020. And in the absence of global standards for many of the new blended fuels that oil refiners have promised, there are some potentially serious safety issues due to the use of incompatible bunkers."

Poulsson added: "Governments, oil refiners and charterers of ships responsible for meeting the cost of bunkers all need to understand that ships will need to start purchasing compliant fuels several months in advance of 1 January 2020. But at the moment no one knows what types of fuel will be available or at what price, specification or in what quantity. Unless everyone gets to grips with this quickly we could be faced with an unholy mess with ships and cargo being stuck in port."

ICS stresses that governments will need to make significant progress on these issues at an IMO meeting in July about the impending global sulphur cap, to which ICS - in cooperation with other international industry associations - will be making a number of detailed technical submissions to assist successful implementation of what ICS describes as a regulatory game changer.

Call for EC to respect IMO's CO2 reduction strategy

The ICS AGM in Hong Kong endorsed its support for the historic IMO agreement adopted in April 2018 on a comprehensive strategy to phase out international shipping's CO2 emissions completely. This includes targets to improve the sector's CO2 efficiency by at least 40 percent by 2030 and 70 percent by 2050, and a goal to cut the sector's total GHG emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050 regardless of growth in demand for maritime transport.

ICS member national associations agreed to contribute constructively to the immediate development of additional IMO regulations that will start to have a direct impact on further reducing international shipping's CO2 emissions before 2023, in line with the new IMO strategy. They agreed that ICS should come forward with detailed proposals before the next round of IMO discussions in October on reducing GHG emissions from shipping.

However, ICS members are said to have expressed "serious disappointment" at the apparent intention of the European Union to press on with the implementation of a regional CO2 reporting system at variance to the global system already agreed by IMO, despite having given an undertaking to align the MRV (Monitoring, Reporting, Verification) regulation with the global regime.

"We are still waiting to see the final recommendations from the European Commission following a recent consultation," remarked Poulsson. "But the industry has made clear its total opposition to the publication of data about individual ships using abstract operational efficiency metrics that bear no relation to CO2 emissions in real life and which will be used to penalise shipowners unfairly."

Poulsson added: "Anything less than a full alignment with the IMO CO2 data collection system will be seen as a sign of bad faith by many non-EU nations who recently agreed to the IMO GHG reduction strategy, precisely to discourage such unilateral measures which risk seriously distorting maritime trade and global shipping markets."

Esben Poulsson re-elected

The ICS AGM, which was hosted by the Hong Kong Shipowners Association, re-elected Esben Poulsson (Singapore) as ICS chairman for a further two-year term.






Related Links:

ICS raises concerns over 2020 fuel availability and agreed standards
ICS backs zero-carbon propulsion, voices scepticism over MBMs
IMO agrees historic deal to cut carbon in shipping sector

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