What is the most pressing issue affecting the global shipping industry that will be your priority area if elected as IMO Secretary-General?
The shipping industry is a significant contributor to Greenhouse Gas emissions, and addressing this challenge is crucial for the industry’s sustainability and broader environmental goals. Therefore, my priority would be accelerating efforts toward decarbonization and promoting the adoption of cleaner and more sustainable shipping practices.
Decarbonization in shipping, which has attracted different opinions, has recently been touted as the most ambitious undertaking that the shipping industry is eyeing. Some fear it will affect the freight cost; others complain that the carbon intensity index that will categorize the ships is flawed; those that say that more ships would be needed and hence more cost, and those who complain of more costly alternative fuels that are not available and those who have fully embraced the idea, especially in the developed world. How will you push the decarbonization agenda forward without hurting any parties, especially those from developing and least developed countries?
I agree that addressing the concerns and challenges associated with decarbonization in the shipping industry, particularly in a way that does not disproportionately impact developed and/or developing countries, is indeed a complex task. Recognizing the differing capacities and capabilities of nations and ship operators, particularly those from developing and least developed countries, is crucial in this process. Fostering inclusive decision-making will ensure that any decarbonization measures consider these differences and provide appropriate support to help them transition to cleaner technologies. Furthermore, enhanced support to SIDS and LDCs to implement measures to reduce freight costs and support trade facilitation, port modernization, and climate adaptation action in maritime transport will also go a long way in getting consensus and buy-in.
In 2016, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), with four-year funding support from the IMO-European Union Project, Capacity Building for Climate Mitigation in the Maritime Shipping Industry, began an initiative to create a Global Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre (MTCC) Network and establish an MTCC in regions: Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Pacific. These centers have faced some challenges, including technological and regulatory capacities. How do you intend to address the global climate change issues in these targeted regions to make such initiatives as MTCC more effective?
The MTCCs were established in these regions based on the unique challenges each faces in addressing climate change issues in the maritime sector. The most pressing issues in these regions are the need for more expertise in emissions reduction technologies, energy efficiency measures, alternative fuels, regulatory frameworks, financing innovations and technologies, and inadequate regulatory frameworks. Therefore, tailored solutions that recognize each targeted region’s unique challenges and characteristics must be developed to address their specific climate change issues. They provide technical assistance, training, and workshops to improve technological and regulatory capacities and build expertise in emissions reduction technologies, energy efficiency measures, and alternative fuels. Upgrading support for implementing technology demonstration projects and coupling start-ups from these regions with advanced innovators in developed economies will improve this assistance and build capacity at source, where it is critically needed.
What immediate challenges do you expect to face in your efforts to push forward the decarbonization agenda, and how will you tackle them?
The differing opinions between countries, ensuring a just and equitable transition and the disproportionate impacts on developing and least developed countries pose immediate decarbonization challenges. Technology and alternative fuels readiness and access to commercially viable and scalable low-carbon technologies is also a significant challenge. I would ensure inclusive decision-making at the IMO, giving every opportunity to members states to negotiate in good faith, with science playing an essential role in providing information and knowledge that can assist member states in making these decisions. I will prioritize research and development efforts, fostering innovation, and promoting public-private partnerships to accelerate the availability and affordability of sustainable technologies. Supporting a just and equitable transition through financial assistance, technology transfer, and capacity-building programs is also critical.
What areas of collaboration will you seek from the private sector, especially in developed nations that may move ahead of IMO in decarbonization, such as the EU, the US, and China, which carry the most extensive shipping trade volumes, to avoid the problem when shipping industry of governments and regions establish different policies and regulations.
Engaging with private sector stakeholders, industry associations, and influential companies is essential to foster policy alignment between governments and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Collaborate on joint advocacy efforts to promote the adoption of consistent and harmonized decarbonization policies and regulations globally. Also important is to partner with the private sector to accelerate the development and deployment of decarbonization technologies and leverage the private sector’s expertise and resources to drive innovation in alternative fuels, energy efficiency technologies, and low-carbon propulsion systems. Collaboration with financial institutions, private investors, and the private sector is needed to mobilize funding and investment in decarbonization projects. We also must leverage the private sector’s expertise in structuring financial instruments and attracting investment for decarbonization projects.
IMO has moved to establish regulatory infrastructure and mechanisms to make decarbonizing economically fair to companies that want to reduce their emissions. What do you intend to do to ensure the enforcement of these regulations is successful?
I will move to strengthen the regulatory framework by working with member states to develop clear and enforceable regulations for decarbonization that are technically feasible, economically viable, and aligned with international commitments. This will also entail rolling out initiatives to provide capacity-building support and technical assistance to member states, especially those with limited resources and expertise, to facilitate effective enforcement of the regulations. Encouragement of the use of technology solutions, such as remote sensing, satellite monitoring, and data analytics, to enhance accuracy and transparency in compliance monitoring and strengthen the IMO IMSAS Audit scheme to support members’ state enforcing established regulatory frameworks.
How do you intend to create a flexible framework to enable those capable of moving faster to decarbonization while ensuring that developing countries are included especially considering the cost of acquiring new ships and adjusting the existing ones?
I will undertake the following:
- Explore the options of flexible targets and timelines based on factors such as a country’s economic capacity, technological readiness, access to financing, innovative financing models, and public-private partnerships to reduce the cost burden of acquiring new ships or retrofitting existing ones.
- Encourage teamwork and collaboration between developed and developing countries to accelerate technology diffusion and local capacity development.
- Foster collaboration and south-south cooperation among developing countries to share experiences, best practices, and lessons learned in decarbonization.
- Encourage establishing regional partnerships and platforms that promote knowledge exchange, technology sharing, and joint projects.
- Create incentives and market-based mechanisms that encourage early adopters and reward emission reduction efforts; and
- Ensure that these mechanisms consider the different capacities of developing countries and provide appropriate support to avoid placing undue economic burden on them.
Decarbonization is a process that will involve the ship owners, operators, and manufacturers. What incentives will the IMO give the various actors to ensure a fast shift towards decarbonization by these three players?
I will foster collaboration between IMO and governments, industry associations, and other international organizations to create joint initiatives that promote innovation, knowledge exchange, and investment in sustainable shipping and offer incentives such as grants, subsidies, or tax breaks to ship owners, operators, and manufacturers investing in low-carbon technologies and practices. These incentives can help offset the initial costs of transitioning to greener alternatives, making decarbonization more economically viable.
The shipping industry has, in some instances, been fragmented. To overcome the highly ambitious goal of zero Greenhouse Gas emissions by the close of the century, everyone must work together and be willing to share information and insight. How will you ensure this happens once at the helm?
This will entail the following:
- Facilitation of joint research projects, knowledge-sharing initiatives, and technology transfer programs.
- Encourage public-private partnerships and international collaborations to leverage expertise, resources, and innovation.
- Encourage stakeholders to voluntarily disclose their emission reduction efforts and their experiences and lessons learned.
- Develop guidelines and frameworks for standardized reporting to facilitate data comparability and reliability. Foster a culture of inclusiveness and ensure that all voices are heard and considered in decision-making processes.
- Encourage participation from developed and developing nations, recognizing the importance of global cooperation.
Concerns about meeting the decarbonization goals included the ability of energy producers and fuel suppliers to deliver appropriate fuel options and the sheer cost of complying with the regulations. Regulatory uncertainty and the need for a uniform framework are also a concern, as is the possibility that charterers may not invest in greener cargo transportation. How will you tackle this challenge?
Actions will include:
Facilitating partnerships between fuel suppliers and shipping industry stakeholders to promote research, development, and investments in sustainable fuel technologies while engaging in dialogue to understand their capabilities and challenges in meeting the demand for low-carbon fuels.
- Working towards establishing a transparent and predictable regulatory framework for decarbonization in the shipping industry. Provide clarity on compliance requirements, timelines, and reporting mechanisms to reduce uncertainty and facilitate smooth implementation.
- Encouraging innovation and technological advancements in renewable and low-carbon fuels, such as hydrogen, ammonia, biofuels, and synthetic fuels.
- Collaborate with industry partners, research institutions, and governments to accelerate the commercialization and scale-up of these fuel options.
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