Sometimes change is tough. And sometimes talk is easy. But as we get closer to January 1, 2020 it is disturbing to see cracks in the industry about adopting IMO2020. We shuddered when Indonesia flirted with the idea of not requiring compliance for its domestic fleet, followed by India. Now it looks as though Russia is balking. As these nations consider the cost of compliance, rather than the benefit to their people in terms of air quality, more countries may see this as “permission” to do the same. This would not reflect well upon our industry as a whole.
As I have been stating for months, the eyes of the international environmental community are on shipping to see how it manages the implementation of IMO2020 and how well we perform. Will we be able to deliver on this IMO regulation which requires global shipping to reduce its Sulphur output from 3.5% to .5% through either the use of compliant fuel, scrubbers, or alternative fuels? The IMO has even facilitated enforcement by also adopting a clear-cut guideline prohibiting the carriage of 3.5% fuel after March 1, 2020 if you don’t have a scrubber.
This is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to the public recognizing that our industry is regulated, and that IMO is that regulator. We need universal compliance and enforcement of IMO2020 not only to respect the regulation, but to demonstrate that IMO is THE arbitrator of maritime regulations. Countries that elect to ignore or postpone the regulation will undermine the credibility of the IMO and our industry, which the public already, and erroneously, views as cowboys who do whatever they want once they have disappeared over the horizon.
Further, if we cannot be trusted to embrace and enforce IMO2020, we will lose our self-determination when it comes to a more visible issue—greenhouse gasses. IMO2020 is not only an important mechanism for reducing shipping’s impact on the environment—it is also a test. Will we pass it?
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