Monday, October 4, 2010

IMO Criticised By Environmentalists For Lack Of Action On Shipping Pollution

US Government Called on for Unilateral Action
Shipping News Feature

UK – US – WORLDWIDE - The not for profit, environmental law firm Earthjustice has called on the American government to unilaterally strengthen regulations governing climate change pollution from ships. After attending the recent International Maritime Organization (IMO) meeting to discuss the situation the organization is convinced the IMO is failing to make significant progress in its attempts to agree upon climate protection measures.

As a branch of the UN, IMO decisions are generally made by consensus, and the numerous proposals for reducing global warming pollution from ships which were presented at the meeting, all met with objections from developing countries including China, India, Saudi Arabia and South Africa preventing agreements being accepted.

Sarah Burt, an attorney with the international program of Earthjustice, attended the IMO meeting in London commenting afterwards:

“Global warming is a global problem, to which a global solution would be ideal. But the United States should not wait for strong mandatory requirements by the IMO when that body seems unable to act. Rather, we should push forward with domestic regulations that address a significant portion of the greenhouse gas emissions at issue.

“If the other nations object to the United States’ domestic action, we should challenge them to catch up to and surpass us in addressing this problem. Once they’ve done so, our regulations may no longer be necessary. But until then, domestic regulation is the best tool we’ve got.“

At the meeting there was a U.S. proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by requiring mandatory energy efficiency standards for ships and allowing trading of efficiency credits as a means to ensure compliance. Nine other proposals for market-based measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions were discussed, including a greenhouse gas fund established by the purchase of emissions reductions credits, a port state levy on emissions, and a global emissions trading scheme (cap and trade) for international shipping.

These measures are opposed by developing countries including China, India, Saudi Arabia and South Africa on the grounds that mandatory sector-wide measures to reduce greenhouse gases from ships would run counter to the principle of common but differentiated responsibility that is central to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The developing countries are also concerned that their economies would be disproportionately impacted by such measures putting up freight and general cargo costs across the board.