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Sea trees

Steering sustainability.

IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim, discusses the need to make zero-carbon ships more attractive and direct investments towards innovative, sustainable technologies and alternative fuels.

Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary-General
Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary-General

As part of the United Nations family, IMO is actively working towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While SDG 14, on oceans, is central to IMO’s remit, our work can be linked to all individual SDGs – addressing climate change, dealing with biodiversity, creating decent work and helping to support sustainable communities are just a few examples. SDG 13 is all about tackling climate change, and this is a key element of IMO’s strategic plan for the period 2018 to 2023.

In 2013, shipping became the first global industry to be subjected to legally binding energy-efficiency requirements, when IMO regulations for both new and existing ships entered into force. Then in 2016, IMO adopted new mandatory requirements for ships of 5,000 gt and above to collect and report data on their fuel-oil consumption in order to help Member States base future decisions on sound facts and reasoned, technical analysis. This scheme went into operation at the beginning of this year.

And in 2018 IMO adopted an initial strategy for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping. This means Member States have now committed to a complete phase-out of GHG emissions from ships, a specific linkage to the Paris Agreement, and clear levels of ambition, including at least a 50 per cent cut in emissions from the sector by 2050. But the targets agreed in the IMO strategy will not be met using fossil fuels, so research and development will be crucial.

There is a need to make zero-carbon ships more attractive, and to direct investments towards innovative, sustainable technologies and alternative fuels. With this in mind, IMO is, as usual, backing up its regulatory initiatives with technical cooperation and capacity-building efforts. IMO’s two major energy-efficiency projects – the Global Maritime Energy Efficiency Partnerships (GloMEEP) project and the EU-funded Global MTCC Network project – are already having a significant impact.

There is a need to make zero-carbon ships more attractive, and to direct investments towards innovative,sustainable technologies and alternative fuels.

Kitack Lim

IMO Secretary-General

Horizons June 2019

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