IMO 2020: Set to Shake-Up the Shipping Industry

Each year, billions of tonnes of goods traverse oceans on ships the size of warehouses. With the spread of globalisation, the volume of goods traded by sea has grown by 300 percent since the 1970s, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Today, ships carry more than 80 percent of all goods.

While the global maritime industry is an invisible force for most of us, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon once called it the “backbone of global trade and the global economy”. And it is only getting bigger: UNCTAD predicted in 2017 that seaborne trade volumes would increase by around 3.2 percent each year until 2022.

The shipping industry is vital to modern life, but it is also responsible for emitting around a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year. As part of the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) broader plan to clean up the industry in the coming decades, ships will be required to reduce their sulphur emissions by more than 80 percent from 2020. Changing the rules for a sector that guzzled half of the world’s total demand for fuel oil in 2017 will have a significant knock-on effect for the entire oil value chain, impacting everyone from truckers and airlines to ordinary consumers…

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