The plan of global shipping to set up a USD 5 billion innovation fund through a fuel tax seems to have the support of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). This became clear at last week’s meeting of the IMO’s environmental committee MEPC Committee, where the subject was on the agenda for the first time.

Eight major industry organisations, including Bimco, Intercargo and the International Chamber of Shipping, launched the plan a year ago. The idea is to get to a fund of some USD 5 billion in ten year’s time through a two-dollar surcharge on a tonne of fuel. The money will be used for research and development of ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Careful support, US and Russia object

The fund should be managed by an autonomous organisation, the International Maritime Research and Development Board (IMRB), to be launched in 2023. Important shipping countries such as Greece and Japan have shown themselves to be in favour, subject to conditions. Most member states of the European Union support the proposal in principle, but want more clarity on the governance and precise objectives of the fund.

The US said it was very concerned about the mandatory nature of the levy and could not support it in its current form. Russia stated that the levy would be detrimental to vessels travelling long distances or operating in icy regions. The plan is due to be discussed again at the next MEPC meeting. It is on the agenda for June next year.

This article first appeared in Dutch on Nieuwsblad Transport, a publication of SWZ|Maritime’s publishing partner Promedia.