Hon. Harry Conway

Liberia Maritime Diplomat Pushes for Decarbonizing Maritime Ships at IMO

Hon. Harry Conway

The Officer-in-Charge at Liberia’s Maritime Mission in London, and Chair of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Committee on Marine Environment Protection (MEPC), Hon. Harry Conway has called on the body to accelerate its works in attaining zero carbon emission on Maritime ships plying the oceans of the world.

Already the IMO has an ambition for the international shipping industry to phase-out on CO2, or end the use of fossil fuel in the industry by 2050, thus adopting some measures for alternative fuels, likely, biofuels, ammonia, solar/wind, and hydrogen, amongst others.

The Liberian Maritime Diplomat was speaking recently at the 70th Session of The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Trade and Development Board in Geneva Switzerland. The conference was held under the theme; De-carbonization Opportunities and Challenges in the Ocean Economy.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is responsible for measures to improve the safety and security of international shipping and prevent marine pollution from ships. The IMO sets standards for the safety and security of international shipping.

In his speech delivered during the conference, Mr. Conway refers to the maritime industry as the world’s ‘blue economy’, and divulged that the industry has the potential to reach equities in banking financials projected at US$68-Trillion globally by the year 2030. The Liberian Maritime Diplomat intoned that the use of alternative fuels on the one hand, and the building of new vessels using green technologies will significantly impact the global economy as a whole, given that 80% plus of world trade relies on maritime transport.

According to Hon. Conway, the objectives of the IMO to attain the 2050 goals to de-carbonized the maritime industry, presents massive opportunities for public and private sector investments in technologies for alternative fuels, infrastructures for alternative fuels, and building vessels using new green technologies and its transfer or sharing, along with capacity building, both in developed and developing countries. Hon. Conway also emphasized the training of seafarers in new skill-set in managing new vessels being done concomitantly as the world sees a better maritime industry in the coming years. 

Emphasizing further, Hon. Conway says some challenges of the industry as it moves from fossil fuel to green energy will be the availability of alternative fuels in sufficient quantity to meet global demand. He said amongst the top challenges to greening the global economy, studies have shown that this is possible, provided there is the needed ‘regulatory certainty”. 

According to Hon. Conway, the industry players are waiting for the IMO to give the signals for an increased level of ambition and adopt mid-term and long-term measures with a definite timeline set as the industry looks to meet the year 2050.

“How can the IMO or do I say, the Blue Economy ensure the transition to decarbonising the blue economy in the International shipping subsector occur without leaving any country behind?” How do we ensure the transition is “just, fair, and equitable?” Hon. Conway intoned.

“These challenges can be placed on what I call the “Spectrum of Divide” towards decarbonisation in international shipping: The Cautious Approach versus the ‘Ambitious Approach.’ The ‘Cautious Approach are those to the left of the spectrum who want the transition to proceed cautiously to gather the available data and facts while being mindful of potential disruptions in the economies of nations. The Ambitious approach is those that want urgent actions now to reign in the ever-increasing CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere to address climate crisis. For these people, nature is not waiting for us. It is acting ferociously as can be seen by the climate crisis we are facing today – floods; wide fires; melting glaciers; rising sea levels; droughts; etc”. Hon. Conway divulged. 

The Liberian Maritime Diplomat then called on the body to take action now as they prepared for the attainment of 1.50C climate goal as envisaged in the Paris Agreement. He says if humans, including the international shipping sector, continue to do business as usual, the various variations in weather patterns and the attendant consequences of floods, wide fires, and sea level rise, may hinder progress in the industry.

“Should we act or wait for nature to fight back with more devastating consequences?” Conway averred. He then recommends that actors in the industry take advantage of the opportunities now without leaving any country behind and express his hope that the IMO will take a cue as the body meets in another session in July 2023 and beyond.

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