Shipping and COP21

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

14 December 2015


Some within our own industry have deplored the fact that shipping was not included in the COP21 text with the Danish Shipowners’ Association reportedly saying such a decision was ‘grotesque’. It is highly likely that there are many owners and operators around the world and doubtless even in Denmark that would disagree strongly with that sentiment. Shipping (and aviation for that matter) is not an independent nation state so there is no more reason to include it by direct reference than there is for any other industrial activity such as manufacturing or farming. Shipping is a service industry and exists only to facilitate other activity, so it could be argued that its emissions should be counted in with those industries it serves if at all. Every flag state’s national government is perfectly free to include the ships under its flag and possibly even those controlled by companies or individuals domiciled there but flagged elsewhere into its national targets for emission reductions. That may mean that ships under different flags are treated differently but that is nothing new and is something that every shipowner has had to cope with since time immemorial. Strange as well that anyone with the shipping industry’s future in mind would actually want to destroy it. Fossil fuels provide direct employment for the vast majority of ships in the tanker sector and also for a large percentage of dry bulk carriers. They are also the raison d’etre for the offshore sector. If a so-called climate deal at some point means that coal, oil and gas have to be phased out then what future does shipping have? Remember too that with no fossil fuel industries, millions will become unemployed and unable to afford the few consumer goods that the remaining rump of the world fleet will be fighting to carry. Lead Editor Malcolm Latarche