IMO decarbonization strategy offers opportunities for green future

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IMO decarbonization strategy offers opportunities for green future
International Maritime Organization Secretary-General Kitack Lim at the Seizing Opportunities for Green Shipping in Asia and the Pacific regional conference jointly hosted by the Philippine Maritime Industry Authority and Denmark’s Danish Maritime Authority. Photo from MARINA.
  • The International Maritime Organization’s revised strategy on decarbonization could unlock new opportunities for the Asia Pacific region, including in the area of renewable fuel production, retrofitting of ships, and digitalizing port operations
  • IMO secretary general Kitack Lim said he is confident countries in the region are in excellent position to unlock the potential in green shipping
  • The revised strategy on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will be adopted in early July 2023

The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) revised strategy on decarbonization offers new opportunities for the Asia-Pacific region, including in the area of renewable fuel production, retrofitting of ships, and digitalizing port operations, according to IMO secretary general Kitack Lim.

The revised strategy, which contains a basket of technical and economic measures for adoption in early June, will also provide certainty for stakeholders, particularly in the shipping community, to invest in future fuels and ship-related technologies, Lim said in a speech on May 16 during the Seizing Opportunities for Green Shipping in Asia and the Pacific regional conference jointly hosted by the Philippine Maritime Industry Authority and Denmark’s Danish Maritime Authority.

Lim said IMO members states are currently actively engaged in the process of upgrading the IMO decarbonization strategy, or the IMO strategy on reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Adopted in 2018, the initial strategy defines the objectives, tools, pace of work and guiding principles and as such is the framework for member states to decarbonize shipping. One of the initial strategy’s levels of ambition is for international shipping to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 while pursuing efforts towards phasing them out.

IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) in 2021 agreed to initiate the revision of the initial strategy, recognizing the need to strengthen the ambition during the revision process and in view of the urgency for all sectors to accelerate their efforts to reduce GHG emissions. The MEPC agreed that a final draft revised IMO GHG strategy would be considered by MEPC during its 80th session scheduled in July 2023, with a view to adoption.

Lim said IMO is working together with members states to support them in implementing the revised strategy “to ensure that no one is left behind.”

The IMO chief noted that the biggest challenge facing the shipping industry is the reduction of GHG emissions and that IMO is “very much aware” that decarbonization present challenges for many developing countries. He noted, however, that they also see many opportunities in “unlocking the potential that green shipping represents.”

“I’m confident that countries in Asia Pacific region are in excellent position to unlock this potential,” Lim said.

In the transition towards a decarbonized future, Lim said he sees “great opportunities for many countries to be a part of the new green future that will see low- and zero-carbon fuel produced and supplied globally.”

“I believe that IMO member states must be ambitious and bold enough to elevate the levels of ambition toward 2050 to support the achievement of the goals set in the Paris Agreement and encouraging our contribution towards a sustainable future,” Lim pointed out.

He noted that in the Philippines and across the region, “there is a strong willingness in committing to work with all stakeholders to explore and make a push towards renewable energy to ensure that maritime transport benefits from the relevant investments and technology transfer and that workforce of the future is equipped for this vital transition.”