he newly elected Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Arsenio Antonio Dominguez Velasco of the Republic of Panama has his job well cut out.
He will take over from Kitack Lim of the Republic of Korea whose term expires on December 31, 2023. The newly elected SG will take office on January 1st, 2024, for four years.
In April this year, IMO approved the names of 7 persons from its member states seeking the post of SG.
The six nominated candidates were Moin Uddin Ahmed from Bangladesh, Suat Hayri Aka from Turkey, Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry from Dominica, Nancy Karigithu from Kenya, Minna Kivimäki from Finland, and Zhang Xiaojie from China. Three women were on the list.
Dominguez is currently the director of the Marine Environment Division of the IMO. He previously served as the director of the Administrative Division and as the chief of staff.
Before joining IMO in July 2017, he worked for the Panama Maritime Authority starting in 1998 as head of the Regional Technical and Documentation Office for Europe and North Africa. He was also an alternate representative and technical adviser of Panama to IMO from 2004 to 201
The election comes less than two weeks after the IMO agreed on a revised strategy to decarbonize the global shipping industry during the 80th Marine Environment Protection Committee gathering. Decarbonization of the shipping industry has been a very emotive issue among the industry stakeholders who have expressed divided opinions.
Countries have agreed on so-called indicative checkpoints of reducing emissions by at least 20%, and striving for 30%, by 2030 compared to 2008 levels, and at least 70%, striving for 80%, by 2040, reaching net-zero “by or around, i.e., close to 2050,” qualified by whether “national circumstances allow”.
After days of discussions in London at IMO headquarters, member countries agreed to reach net zero emissions by 2050 taking into account different national circumstances.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said the unanimous support from all 175 member states was “particularly meaningful” and that the deal opened “a new chapter towards maritime decarbonization.”
Shipping, which transports around 90% of world trade and accounts for nearly 3% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, has faced calls from environmentalists and investors to deliver more concrete action, including a carbon levy.
Ralph Regenvanu, climate minister for the low-lying South Pacific Republic of Vanuatu was quoted by Reuters that a GHG levy was the only way to keep emissions below the limit, which scientists say is needed to prevent the most devastating consequences of global warming.
The 2015 Paris Agreement, which sought to strengthen the global response to climate change, reaffirmed the goal of limiting global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius while pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees.
The IMO delegation to the world’s biggest polluter China said the adoption of the strategy was a milestone.
China had pointed to “unrealistic visions and levels of ambition” to reach zero GHG by 2050 at the latest, according to a diplomatic note.
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