Lobby groups clash on outcome of latest ship speed reduction talks

IMO’s intercessional working group met again last week to look through proposals on how to mandate existing ships to cut CO2 emissions. As usual the lobby groups disagree on progress.

A sixth of seven intercessional working group meetings took place last week at the International Maritime Organization to look at ways to make existing ships improve operational efficiency and thus cut CO2 emissions. As discussions focused on ship’s speed the usual difference of opinion on the speed of the decision making emerged between shipowner and green lobby groups.

The objective of the working group is to look at proposals to amend parts of the Marine Pollution regulations in Marpol that create improvements in operational energy efficiency of the ships that are already in service.

The group also has other tasks, such as proposals to reduce methane slip and emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s from mainly oil tankers) which are both far worse greenhouse gases than CO2. It  has also been instructed to look at new fuels for shipping that could be low or zero carbon, as well as proposals for the development of lifecycle greenhouse gas guidelines.  

The group is to finish its work in time to submit a report on the measures and other topics to the next meeting of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee which will meet for the 75th time in April 2020. A seventh and final meeting will finalise the report.

The overarching goal is to help the IMO decide on its programme of actions up to 2023 and its initial strategy on reduction of greenhouse emissions from ships.


The focus from lobby groups has been on the various proposals that have been put forward to use a reduction of ship speed as one of the quick and easy gains. Various member states and observer members submitted papers on the topic.

Even as the meeting on Friday (15th November) came to an end the environmental lobby groups were quick to criticise the meeting. The Clean Shipping Coalition issued a statement saying the meeting had a lack of progress and showed low ambition, adding that the meeting did little more than review options already on the table and “gave far too much time to technical matters that will deliver far too little too  late”

The European Community Shipowners’ Association which represents national shipowner associations in Europe was quick to respond to the green loby’s criticism, issuing its own statement to “rectify statements put forward by organisations such as CSA”, stating that the meeting was fruitful preparatory work.

“Contrary to the claims by the CSC, the IMO Intersessional meeting was not meant to take any decision, but to prepare for the MEPC 75 starting March 30, 2020,” ECSA Secretary-General Martin Dorsman said in the statement. “The European shipping industry, under the umbrella of the International Chamber of Shipping, is keen to see results at that moment that deliver on both short- and medium-term measures. It will show to EU regulators that the IMO is the most appropriate global platform to effectively reduce CO2 emissions from shipping,”

Share article:

Dedicated topic pages >>

Other news >>


Stay On Top Of The Transformation Of The Shipping And Maritime Sectors With Our Weekly Email Newsletter.