A Cleaner Future for the Shipping Industry

Shipping is the backbone of today’s globalized world and accounts for the carriage of roughly 90% of international trade. Given the sheer number of countries that engage in international shipping, the United Nations created an agency known as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for regulatory oversight purposes. The IMO subsequently created the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), the most significant international agreement dealing with maritime vessel pollution to date. A predominant responsibility of the IMO is to reduce shipping emissions, seeing as the industry accounts for nearly 3% of global CO2 emissions. Likewise, sulfur emissions are unacceptably high, which has compelled the IMO to take unprecedented steps toward reducing the sulfur content in the grade of fuel oil used by maritime vessels.

Climate Change: A Compliance Crisis

In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations issued a special report on the impact of global warming. The report shared extensive research about our changing atmosphere and issued a grave warning: we must act immediately. The harrowing news came just over one year after President Trump ordered the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement in June 2017. This begs the question:  how will changes be made when the world’s most powerful and impactful hegemon refuses to cooperate?