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IMO upbeat on work to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions from ships

Singapore: IMO secretary-general Efthimios Mitropolous delivered the second annual Singapore Maritime Lecture this week, the first having been given last year by the republic's minister mentor Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Addressing the topic of 'Climate Change and International Shipping,' Mitropoulos gave an update on IMO work on reduction of the emission of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) from ships following the successful work carried out early this year on reducing other emissions such as SOx in the revision of Marpol Annex VI.

'IMO has also given ample consideration to this (GHG) matter, given the mandate that the Organization has, through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ?" the UNFCCC ?" and its Kyoto Protocol, to pursue the limitation or reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases from ships, said Mitropoulos. 'We have established an ambitious but achievable action plan to that end and are now working towards the development and adoption of a robust regime that will regulate shipping at the global level and contribute to the slowing down of climate change.  

'In particular, much progress has been made this year by the MEPC and in intersessional meetings on items such as the development of the Interim Guidelines for an Energy Efficiency Design Index for new ships, an Energy Efficiency Operational Index and best practices for fuel efficient operation of ships throughout the industry. All these efforts are due to culminate with the expected adoption, in 2009, of a comprehensive package of technical and operational measures for all ships, which, I hope, will successfully convey, to the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC to be held in Copenhagen towards the end of next year, IMO's firm determination to act, within its sphere of competence and responsibility, promptly and decisively to protect and preserve the marine environment.'

Mitropoulus went on to express his personal view on the 'recurrent debate' over whether whether the GHG emission reductions agreed by IMO should apply exclusively to countries listed in Annex I to the UNFCCC (in essence, developed or industrialized countries) or whether their application should extend to all ships, no matter what flag they fly.

'My view on this is that, if reductions in CO2 emissions from ships are to benefit the environment as a whole, they must apply globally to all ships in the world fleet,' stated Mitropoulos. 'If mandatory reduction measures were applied only to ships flagged in Annex I countries, which in today's shipping reality represent a mere 25 per cent of the world's merchant fleet, the net benefit for the global environment would be minimal and that, clearly, given the global mandate and responsibility of IMO, would not be a satisfactory outcome.'   

Mitropoulos concluded by reminding that the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC ?" left the limitation and reduction of GHGs from shipping to IMO to regulate. 'But Kyoto expires in 2012 and will be replaced by the outcome of the Copenhagen meeting in December 2009. IMO will be reporting to that meeting and I am confident that, following the progress made by the MEPC last week and the further advances that it is expected to make on this issue by July 2009, we will have a positive outcome to convey to the global community,' Mitropoulos said.  [17/10/08]

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