China, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and India have continued to obstruct and undermine every substantial proposal for tackling GHG emissions from shipping at an IMO meeting in Oslo his week.

The International Maritime Organisation’s special greenhouse gas working group meeting, which concluded today, was tasked with carrying forward a number of key initiatives aimed at reducing GHG emissions from shipping. Despite constructive proposals from the European Commission and EU states, progress on an emissions trading scheme and a levy on marine bunker fuel were blocked entirely, while China and others took every opportunity to weaken and delay plans for design and operational indexes that would reduce CO2 emissions from new and existing ships respectively.

Twelve of Sweden’s biggest importers and exporters have signed a letter of intent that will lead to the collection of data and use of environmental criteria in their shipping procurement.

These developments show that consumer pressure and campaigns pushing for greener maritime transport can indeed change the policies of commercial enterprises – we now see a shift from a position of considering the environmental impacts of shipping as “someone else’s problem” to an acknowledgement that the way in which goods are shipped is the responsibility of purchasers.

The process to reduce GHG emissions from ships is being threatened by developing countries who fail to recognise that the shipping industry is a special case and requires a special global sectoral approach.