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Will the pandemic open new doors?

If our industry can adapt and innovate like we have done throughout COVID-19, imagine what we can do to accelerate decarbonisation efforts if we apply the right thinking and the right resources, says David Loosley, BIMCO Secretary General & CEO.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down offices, ports, schools, and society. As the second wave hits many parts of the world, it may be tempting for governments and corporates to turn focus inwards, and deal with national or corporate matters, as opposed to fixing those on the horizon and common goals.

In our own industry, we need to remind ourselves daily that our focus must remain firmly on the long-term goal of decarbonisation, while continuously fight for the urgent issues such as the rights of crew to perform crew changes, despite the pandemic and the challenges it brings.

As closed as the world currently seems, I, in my capacity as Secretary General & CEO of BIMCO, continue to see optimism, creativity and positivity from industry players, members and leaders in shipping. What I find encouraging are testimonies from company leaders about the readiness of their organisations to adapt, change and innovate at incredibly short notice when the COVID-19 crisis hit.

Companies and staff worldwide took to working from home, from one day to the next, finding new digital solutions and rethinking how to not only go about, but also improve, functions and businesses. I find this both fascinating and reassuring. If our industry can adapt and innovate to this extent, this fast, imagine what we can do to accelerate decarbonisation efforts if we apply the right thinking and the right resources to the task.

Our industry urgently needs viable and commercially available technology solutions to reduce carbon emissions, and BIMCO advocates for an International Maritime Research Fund (IMRF) to drive innovation in the technology we need to cut carbon emissions by 50% in 2050, and ultimately eliminate those emissions.

For innovative solutions to succeed however, the right policy framework is needed too. BIMCO continues to call for global action on reducing CO2 emissions, as opposed to national or regional schemes. Therefore, we have voiced concern over the EU proposed implementation of a regional Emissions Trading System (ETS), as we fear the inclusion of shipping in the EU ETS will inhibit global action on reducing CO2 emissions. We fear that shipping risks getting hit by multiple emission trading systems; once the scalable technology is available, this will make any global MBM (Market Based Measure) much more difficult to achieve.

We therefore urge the EU to work with the international community at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on this critical activity to ensure that the industry continues to operate on a level playing field.

If the shipping industry operates on a level playing field globally, companies can focus on all the invaluable lessons learned during the COVID-19 crisis in a bid to fuel innovation and speed up decarbonisation efforts.

David Loosley, Secretary General & CEO of BIMCO.
Horizons April 2021

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