At this week’s meeting of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 78), there was insufficient support for the maritime transportation industry’s proposal to establish a research and development fund focused on progressing decarbonization of the sector. The International Chamber of Shipping Secretary General expressed the disappointment of the sector in a press release, stating that the industry was “frustrated by short-sighted political manoeuvring which has led to the proposal in effect being killed. The signal this sends means that the financial risk associated with green investment will remain high, slowing down efforts to switch to zero-carbon fuels as soon as possible.”
The proposal to establish an International Maritime Research and Development Board (IMRB), to accelerate R&D of zero-carbon technologies and fuels, was jointly submitted to the UN IMO by the shipping industry’s leading trade associations in 2019. This was followed by a comprehensive regulatory proposal in 2020 from 10 governments (including the major maritime nations of Denmark, Greece, Japan and Singapore, as well as Georgia, Liberia, Malta Nigeria, Palau and Switzerland) for a mandatory R&D contribution, to be paid by ships globally, of US$2 per tonne of marine fuel consumed, to an IMO Maritime Research Fund (IMRF). The IMRF would have provided around US$ 5 billion of funding for R&D programmes.