The Chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), Mr Esben Poulsson, has praised the positive role played by the Chinese Government in supporting the global regulatory framework for merchant shipping provided by the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO).
In his keynote speech to the Marintec conference in Shanghai today, Mr Poulsson welcomed China's close adherence to the implementation of national maritime regulations, applicable to visiting foreign-flag ships, in a manner consistent with the international maritime safety and pollution prevention Conventions adopted by IMO.
He said that China generally avoided the tendency – unfortunately displayed by some other IMO Member States – towards adopting unilateral shipping regulations at variance to rules agreed internationally.
EU Member States, for example, despite what were understood to be undertakings to the contrary, appear to be pressing ahead with the implementation of a regional CO2 data collection system for ships (including visiting non-EU flag ships) which is very different to that agreed by IMO for global application.
The United States, meanwhile, shows no signs of ever ratifying the IMO Ballast Water Convention, and has adopted type-approval standards for the new treatment systems required that are different to those agreed by IMO. This creates enormous practical and legal challenges for ship operators which trade to the United States.
Mr Poulsson particularly highlighted China's efforts to engage constructively in the development at IMO of new environmental regulations applicable to international shipping, and China's support for pragmatic solutions for their successful implementation worldwide.
With regard to the current development of an IMO CO2 reduction strategy for shipping, Mr Poulsson said that 'ICS was very encouraged that China, in collaboration with other important emerging economies, has come forward with its own vision of what an IMO CO2 strategy might look like, and has actually gone to the effort of developing a possible draft text.'
'We think that this text, proposed by China and others – if combined with the CO2 reduction objectives put forward by the shipping industry and other governments – could actually provide the makings of a truly ambitious agreement, which will provide a signal to the world that IMO is very serious about reducing shipping’s CO2 emissions, and that it has a detailed plan for the development of further measures.'
With respect to the IMO Ballast Convention, the ICS Chairman welcomed the pragmatic approach taken by most IMO Member States, including the Government of China, which had accepted the arguments, made by ICS and others, that there is little logic – from an environmental protection standpoint – in requiring thousands of ships to comply until they can be fitted with systems that have been approved under the more stringent IMO standards which have only recently been agreed.
While commending China's strong engagement with IMO, which he viewed as ‘a source for good’, Mr Poulsson suggested that China's ability to contribute to positive outcomes during IMO discussions could be further strengthened if the China Shipowners' Association became a full member of ICS, alongside its other 36 member national shipowner associations in Asia, the Americas and Europe.
'We enjoy good relations with the Chinese Government at IMO, and we very much hope that CSA will become a full member of ICS in the near future' Mr Poulsson told the Marintec audience, which comprised both Chinese shipping industry representatives and senior government officials.