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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A leaked document is only part of a recipe

(The following article was published this week in Fairplay magazine and serves to clarify (through the eyes of a third party) what happened over the leaked INTERTANKO report on ship emissions.)


A leaked document is only part of a recipe. And it is usually leaked to provide an incorrect, distorted or unbalanced view of the matter under discussion. And this is what happened in what we may call the INTERTANKO affair.


Going back a few months, the Secretary-General of the IMO Efthymnios Mitropoulos called upon a Group of Experts to study and evaluate the effects of the various proposals for reducing ship emissions. One side of the argument called on exhaust gas scrubbers to be used to clean exhaust gases. On the other side there was a call to do away with residual fuels altogether and introduce distillates across the board. Between these two polarised positions were those who occupied the middle ground.


The Group of Experts studied papers submitted by all interested parties and prepared a report for IMO’s digestion.


And here springeth the leak. The paper introduced by INTERTANKO was maliciously circulated from a fax bureau not a million miles from where the Group of Experts was meeting. This was picked up by the Times newspaper and subsequently the BBC. Taking much out of context a completely false impression was given. One of the headlines was ‘Global emissions of carbon dioxide from shipping are twice the level of aviation’.


Now INTERTANKO has issued a press release which corrects this impression. (Click here to see this press release)


One significant and telling piece of information is that a modern VLCC moves one tonne of oil more than 2,800 kilometres for just one litre of fuel, more than twice as far as 20 years ago. Also the average carbon footprint across the tanker fleet is less than one tenth of a heavy goods truck and less than one percent of that of an aeroplane.


And still the shipping industry isn’t satisfied. And quite right too.