At the end of last year, we saw some ground-breaking environmental news. The COP21 climate negotiations in Paris succeeded with involved nations committing to “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.”

As part of the COP21 negotiations there was fierce discussion on whether shipping and aviation should be singled out as the only industries required to commit to reducing their CO2 emissions. There were many good arguments for such a radical step:

  • Shipping has a significant environmental footprint: the industry accounts for 2.2% of global CO2 emissions today and this will probably rise  with the growth of global trade and as other industries’ environmental measures take effect
  • Our industry is global with activities mostly outside the borders of the nations covered by the Climate agreement
  • In the opinion of many, environmental regulation of our industry is not progressing at the desired pace and representative bodies are not perceived as particularly open to dialogue

In the end, Shipping as an industry was left out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement - a disappointment and a lost opportunity.

The IMO is the United Nations’ specialized agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. So far, IMO have put in place design limits for vessels with regard to CO2 (EEDI), but progress has been very slow on regulating CO2 emissions from vessel operations.   

Instead, individual nations are compelled to fill the void, introducing various regional and national regulations. Currently, the EU are finalizing their own “Measurement, Reporting and Verification” scheme for CO2 emissions from ships that will be mandatory as of 2018, as a first step towards taxation. Other global agencies also move in; just the other week the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published a proposal to levy a special carbon tax on shipping and aviation, aiming to raise 25 billion per year for the Global Climate Fund.

This is all to the detriment of responsible shipping companies around the world. For WWL as a global company this means a fragmented, complex and unnecessarily expensive regulatory environment. But there is some good news. The Paris Agreement has clearly put Shipping on the agenda; the world’s eyes are now on the industry and the IMO. Hopefully this should motivate the parties to speed up progress towards clear, enforceable and global regulation. After all, the same nations who signed the COP21 are represented at the IMO.  

WWL works to exceed our responsibilities today to reduce risk and cost tomorrow – both to the environment and to us as a company. We are actively engaged in the regulatory development in this and other areas as members of the World Shipping Council, part of EU working groups and national shipping associations and through the Trident Alliance. That’s responsible logistics.