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IMO champions maritime decarbonization at Global Supply Chain Forum

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LONDON : IMO is advancing concrete measures to decarbonize shipping, while aiming to shield small island developing states and least developed countries from any potential negative impacts to their economies.  

At the world’s first Global Supply Chain Forum (21-24 May), organized by UN Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Government of Barbados in Bridgetown, IMO Secretary-General Mr. Arsenio Dominguez named decarbonization as one of two major challenges currently facing the maritime industry, along with geopolitics.  

During a high-level panel, Mr. Dominguez highlighted how attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea area is affecting efforts to cut emissions in shipping.  

He said: “Even though we have made a lot of progress to become greener, the industry has been forced to increase greenhouse gas emissions in order to safely continue to supply to the world. So by sailing around the Cape of Good Hope [to avoid threats in the Red Sea], we emit three times more than expected.”  

However, he emphasized the “resilience” of the maritime sector in the face of crises, and applauded IMO’s pathway to net zero shipping by around 2050. This includes setting legally binding technical and economic measures to cut emissions, which are due for global adoption in late 2025 as part of the 2023 IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG emissions from ships. 

“We’re focusing on the positives. We’re working with other sectors, particularly the energy sector, to see how they can develop and supply energy at a price that will not create a negative impact on states, and particularly small island developing states,” Mr. Dominguez added. 

Focus on SIDS and LDCs 

The Global Supply Chain Forum focused on key issues such as financing, trade facilitation, transport connectivity, digitalization, climate action, and preparing developing countries for the energy transition in international transport. 

In the margins of the Forum, IMO and UNCTAD organized various side events that promoted decarbonization of the maritime transport sector for small island developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs) in the Caribbean and beyond. 

The first panel session focused on ‘Climate change mitigation and energy transition’, highlighting the opportunities and challenges for green shipping in the Caribbean region and for SIDS in general.  

Participants explored the underlying needs and gaps SIDS face and how these can be tackled through initiatives such as access to technology in the Global South, cooperation among all actors in the maritime supply chain, and appropriate training to seafarers and maritime workers on the handling of zero or near-zero GHG emission fuels.  

A second session on ‘Unlocking opportunities for green shipping in the Caribbean’ explored how Caribbean SIDS could take advantage of potential benefits, while mitigating the costs of the energy transition, which are usually translated into higher maritime logistics costs.  

Discussions delved into practical solutions, such as building an enabling environment for the production and bunkering of zero or near-zero GHG emission fuels, mainstreaming IMO regulations into national legislation, and narrowing technology and infrastructure gaps.  

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