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ICS Conference welcome address

Sep 16, 2019

Wednesday, 11 September: Welcoming address delivered by Emanuele Grimaldi, Vice-Chair, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS); and President and Managing Director, Grimaldi Group on behalf of ICS Chair, Esben Poulsson at the ICS Conference in London

Ladies and Gentlemen on behalf of our Chairman, Esben Poulsson, and the entire ICS Board welcome to the ICS Conference, a key moment during London International Shipping Week.

In April last year the IMO concluded a ground-breaking agreement on CO2 emissions, “The Paris Agreement for Shipping”. This is the most important transformation to face the Maritime Sector since the transition from sail to steam. But it is more than a mere change in the way a ship moves through the ocean, it represents a fundamental transformation in the business of shipping, something that we at the International Chamber of Shipping call the 4th Propulsion Revolution.

Industrial revolutions are not unique to the maritime sector but translating words of an agreement into action falls to us - the leaders of the Maritime Sector – to engage actively, to identify solutions and to deliver a sustainable maritime sector of the future.

We all know there are no clear solutions, no silver bullets that will enable us to easily transform our industry. There will need to be trade-offs, new ways of working and yes there will be losers.

ICS is committed to ensuring that the losers will not be its members. Indeed, this is why we were so keen to organise our first conference since the historic IMO agreement to address this very theme.

We all know that change is coming and as in all business the winners will be those who identify the opportunities and make the right decisions. The evidence is clear we need to act now, for if we do not we will be at the mercy of forces that we may not be able to control.

People sometimes say that shipping is a servant of global trade but I would argue that shipping is the driver for global trade. Without shipping our economies would be fundamentally weaker and countries would be poorer. This is the value we add.

We are now able to transport food, raw materials and goods from the countries “who have” to the countries “who need” enabling economies to grow and people to prosper. Shipping is the most efficient way of doing this. Can you imagine the carbon emissions if we had to transport everything by plane?

Studies have shown that while containers ships emit about 3 grams of CO2 per tonne of product for each kilometre travelled - aircraft emit about 435 grams of CO2 per tonne per kilometre. That represents a 140 fold increase in CO2 emissions from plans over ships doing the same job. That to me is a staggering statistic.

While shipping is the most efficient method of moving goods and people around the world this is not an excuse to do nothing. No - to me this shows that we can do even more. We already have a great story to tell but we also have a great opportunity to be leaders. To me this why shipping is so important now and why shipping is so important for our future.

But what is also clear is that we can’t do it alone. Without the support of the consumers, the policymakers, the finance community and suppliers the 4th Propulsion Revolution will be stifled. We must all work together to mitigate the risk of transformation. Risk is our common language. And we need to reach beyond our own community to ensure that the risk is equitably allocated and priced.

Let me reiterate that point as I think it is very important – we need to reach beyond our own community to ensure that the risk is equitably allocated and priced.

ICS bases the advice it gives and the work it does on facts rather than fads. This is why we have brought together an amazing line up of speakers who know what is happening based on hard evidence and experience. Unlike many events you may go to we have not just called on our community in the maritime sector to tell us what we already know. We have reached beyond our community to understand what is happening outside of our bubble, to challenge us and to build partnerships that will enable us to address the 2050 agenda.

I am truly grateful to the speakers who have given their valuable time, some travelling across the world, just to address us and help us start this conversation. You are truly leaders.

The shipping industry is about to embark on a mini transition on 1 January 2020 with the introduction of the new sulphur regulations. But as we look to 2050 we are faced with a journey where there are no maps and we only see a myriad of paths with significant consequences. Without a clearer understanding of what the future fuel mix might look like how can we as shipowners make the right investment decisions?

It is clear that the 4th Propulsion Revolution will involve many and not just shipowners. What can we learn from other experience?

We have seen in the power sector how mechanisms like feed in tariffs have been used by governments to catalyse transition to new emission free technology. Is there a role for similar market mechanisms to support and catalyse the shipping sectors transformation?

What are the right technologies and where will we need more investment so that the 4th Propulsion Revolution can be equitable and sustainable?

How do ports need to operate in the future while adapting to rising sea levels, increased extreme weather events and new technological requirements?

What do we need it terms of wider infrastructure and is there a role for new players in the market? And what of the client? How do they catalyse the right path for us all?

These are just some of the questions that we will be asking today and this is the start of a conversation which the International Chamber of Shipping will be having as we look to shape the future of shipping. I would like to thank all of you for joining us here today and particularly for the support of our sponsors. You are all leaders.

So before I hand over to Kitack Lim the Secretary General of the IMO to set out the 2050 vision I want to leave you with one thought which Esben as a Dane wanted me to pass on to you all.

One thousand years ago the King of England and the King of Denmark were one in the same person. Cnut the Great or King Canute as he is sometimes known.

The story that is often told is that Canute ordered the tide to hold back in a show of arrogance. The reality is that Canute was trying to demonstrate to his flattering courtiers that secular power is vain compared to the supreme power of God. This same parable is often used to highlight how it is not possible to stand still when faced with the unstoppable forces such as the tide of information on the internet.

Now we are not kings or courtiers but there is a tide of change coming and we need to prepare. The reality is that if we are to meet the 2050 deadline we do not have time to waste we need to start preparing now.

The reality is that companies are going to need to place orders in the first half of the next decade in a context of uncertainty about the future. The reality is that we have seen in other sectors success and failure, and we need to learn from this. We are the leaders of a truly fascinating and important sector for the global economy.

The decisions we take will have implications beyond our own board rooms. The 4th Propulsion Revolution is an opportunity for us all to power the global economy and our businesses in an even more profitable and sustainable way.

I hope you all enjoy the conference and will engage fully with the dialogue that we at ICS will be leading. 

  • International Chamber of Shipping
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