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Kitack Lim says EU pivotal in IMO’s green policy making

Photo: IMO kitacklim.jpg
Outgoing International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary General Kitack Lim says working with the European Commission was a “unique experience” that had its “positive elements”.

Lim will hand over the leadership of the IMO to Panama’s Arsenio Dominguez Velasco on 1 January next year, and in a press event for the media on 6 October Lim opened up about the relationship between the IMO and the commission during his tenure.

“We had a very constructive dialogue even when the EU had been pushing the IMO, we saw a positive element [to the EU strategy] so with that understanding the IMO and EU, and the European Commission in particular, had very constructive communications,” said Lim.

In 2018 when the IMO first agreed its greenhouse gas (GHG) plans, to reach a 50% reduction in emissions by 2050, the EU had played a significant role in pushing through this level of ambition, with the then transport commissioner Violetta Bulc driving the EU’s view that a 75% by 2050 should be the aim, with the IMO settling for a more modest level of ambition.

Since then, the EU has been accused of driving the IMO by introducing its own regional regulations that the IMO has been forced to follow, with the latest regulation, the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), due to start in January.

Lim singled out the newly appointed transport and mobility director, Magda Kopczynska, for her role in smoothing the discussions making sure that the talks between the IMO and EU remained on track.

On some occasions Lim said he had revealed in public that the IMO and EU had been in constructive discussions and Kopczynska had warned him to be mindful of revealing too much on their discussions.

“She came to me and said secretary general please don’t say that, people will misunderstand and believe there is an IMO/EU collaboration, but really I’m very grateful to the EU.”

However, Lim was also keen to point out that the EU has agreed to accept a single unified approach to GHG abatement when the IMO process is adopted, “The EU will accept and respect and implement the global measures,” explained Lim.

Meanwhile, Lim also pointed out that discussions over the GHG strategy and the way forward are to be held on 6 November with a roundtable to which all stakeholders will be invited to give their opinions on the way forward for the GHG regulations.

“After that there will be more substantial discussions and collaboration further on into 2024,” said Lim.

The impact assessment of the legislation has already started, last month, and this is a key process on how to address the impact on developing countries and small island countries, and the outcome of the impact assessment will also be presented in November.

“With the outcome of the GHG strategy now adopted at least the private sector can see with much clearer certainty what will happen next year, particularly with the time frame.”