A reflection on 2019 and what's to come in 2020
As we come to the end of 2019, I wanted to use my regular column to look back at the year and share a few thoughts as we head into 2020.
At the Chamber we have worked incredibly hard with our members on a range of issues over the last 12 months, too many to mention individually here. But one area which I have been particularly proud of our work is safety. During London International Shipping Week we were delighted to have the Shipping Minister officially launch our Safety Culture Charter. The aim of the Charter is to reduce incidents and accidents at sea. Since its launch we have had more companies sign up and we currently have 24 signatories representing nearly 100,000 seafarers, and we are seeing real action here, not just lip-service to safety.
Tackling climate change has been top of the agenda over the last 12 months and I am delighted to see progress being made in the right direction. At the IMO in November we argued that slow shipping was not the answer to cutting emissions and we were delighted that the IMO agreed with us and has adopted a goal-based approach instead. In the last few days we have seen a dramatic intervention from the International Chamber of Shipping with the announcement of a $5bn research and development fund to create new technologies to reduce the carbon emissions from ships. This could be a real game-changer for the industry and demonstrates just how seriously the sector is taking its commitment to reducing emissions.
2019 has seen a year of real positive change and with the introduction of the IMO 2020 Sulphur Cap coming into force on 01 January, and with the Global Maritime Forum in London next October and the UN Climate conference in Glasgow in November, 2020 promises to be another year of opportunity to work together to find solutions to reduce emissions across the industry.
This year has had its challenges, none more so than the illegal seizure of the Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz in July. We worked tirelessly with Stena and different parts of the UK government to help ensure the safe release of the vessel and her crew. What the seizure demonstrated was the danger that can often be overlooked in merchant shipping. Shipping moves 90% of the world’s trade, sometimes through politically unstable waters, and as a Chamber we will continue to do all we can to ensure governments and organisations around the world work together to ensure the safe passage of goods across the globe.
The last twelve months has been an incredibly busy year and 2020 looks like it will be no different. We know many seafarers will be away from loved ones this Christmas, but I want them to know that the UK Chamber of Shipping will be thinking of them and as we enter 2020 we will continue to do everything possible to ensure the new UK government stands up for shipping.
Before I sign off, a congratulations to our Supervisory Board members Grahaeme Henderson and Graham Westgarth who are both in the Lloyd’s List top 100 people in shipping 2019. Great recognition for their super work. And congratulations also to Fran Collins (Red Funnel) and Kevin Slade (MNTB) as worthy recipients of the Merchant Navy medal.
I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy new year and I leave you with the Christmas message from the Chamber.