Corporate Capture of the IMO! Paris Climate Agreement Under Threat


A new study from London-based non-profit organisation InfluenceMap has claimed that corporate shipping lobbies and trade groups are influencing policy and obstructing the implementation of global climate change measures within IMO.

The report, entitled Corporate capture of the IMO, said that groups such as BIMCO and the World Shipping Council have been successful in opposing and delaying greenhouse gas emissions reduction measures at the UN shipping body. It also singled out the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), representing 80% of the world’s merchant fleet, as seeming to “lead efforts to oppose climate action for shipping.”

According to the report “Corporations have unmatched access and influence at the IMO compared to other UN bodies, providing the shipping industry with a clear avenue to shape policymaking …”

“Progress on regulation has been stalled by powerful shipping trade associations … [who] have collectively lobbied to delay implementation of any climate regulations until 2023 – even then refusing to support anything but voluntary regulations that may not reduce the sector’s overall greenhouse emissions.”

ICS led a proposal that IMO member states – the same states that are parties to the UNFCCC Paris Agreement – should agree an initial objective of holding the total CO2 emissions of the international shipping sector below 2008 levels. The proposal went on to argue that IMO should also set an ambitious goal for the percentage by which the sector’s total CO2 emissions should be reduced by 2050, compared to 2008, as long as those percentages were approved by developing nations.

InfluenceMap’s study was timed to coincide with this week’s climate talks between IMO member states.

With more than 200 in attendance, the intersessional working group on Reduction of GHG Emissions (ISWG-GHG) has, according to IMO, “been instructed to further develop the structure and identify core elements of the draft initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships and develop draft text for inclusion.”

In response to the InfluenceMap report, IMO spokesperson Natasha Brown told Riviera Maritime Media “Nominating people to its delegation is an internal domestic matter for each member state. The IMO Secretariat is not involved in those decisions.”

Ms Brown also pointed to the organisation’s comprehensive list of non-governmental organisations holding consultative status that include groups with a “broad spectrum of interest from environmental to seafarers to shipping,” none of whom have voting or decision-making power.

Finally, she cited the mandatory IMO measures addressing GHG reduction from ships, including EEDI and SEEMP, and the body’s adoption of mandatory measures for ships to report their fuel oil consumption data.

InfluenceMap’s study claimed IMO appears to exceed all other UN agencies in the extent to which it allows corporate representation in the policy-making process. The group also said its research shows that the shipping sector is using its influence in IMO to maintain current business practices and that the industry is being opaque in comparison to other industries faced with tackling carbon emissions.

The exception to the rule, they said, was container shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk, which is transparent and appears ‘ambitious’ in its support of climate change action.

Other Scandinavian trade associations and shipping companies, including Stena Line, as well as Pacific nations have come out in support of curbing emissions and could create a coalition to try to influence this week’s IMO talks. The talks are closed to media, however IMO said it hopes to produce a report following the meetings.

To read the full report, click here.

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Source: InfluenceMap