UK approves IMO’s marine amendments treaty

Cosco Ship

Cosco Ship

The United Kingdom has become the first State to formally accept the 2013 marine ‘geoengineering’ amendments to the 1996 ‘London Protocol’, the treaty covering dumping of wastes at sea.
 
Information made available by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) indicates that the  amendments support the precautionary approach by providing for specific marine geoengineering activities to be permitted only when the activity is assessed as constituting legitimate scientific research. 
 
It explained that currently, only ocean fertilization for research purposes might be permitted. According to IMO, the marine scientific expert group GESAMP is currently undertaking a comprehensive study on marine geoengineering to better understand the potential impacts of proposed marine geoengineering techniques on the marine environment – including social and economic consequences.

The London Protocol entered into force ten years ago, modernizing the original “London Convention” dumping treaty by prohibiting all dumping at sea with the exception of wastes commonly agreed by Governments and then put on an approved list.
 
IMO Directors Frederick Kenney (Legal and External Relations Division) and Stefan Micallef (Marine Environment Division) welcomed Mr. Alan Beckwith, from the Treaty Section of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth office, who handed over the instrument of acceptance of the amendment at IMO Headquarters, London, recently.
 
This amendment forms an important part of a series of efforts by Contracting Parties to the London Convention and Protocol to address climate change. Already in 2006, the LP Contracting Parties took ground-breaking steps to provide a global regulatory framework for climate change mitigation, when they adopted amendments regulate carbon capture and sequestration in sub-sea geological formations.
 
The 2006 amendments, which have entered into force for all Parties, created a legal basis in international environmental law to regulate carbon capture and storage in sub-seabed geological formations for permanent isolation.
 
Meanwhile, COSCO Shipping has  officially unveiled the world’s largest tanker company in Shanghai.According to maritime executives news, COSCO Shipping Energy Transportation will be the top tanker firm both by tonnage and by ship count, “with 105 vessels of a combined 17 million dwt, valued at about one tenth of China COSCO’s assets”.
 
The company also boasts of some 200 domestic and overseas customers in oil and gas.State-owned China COSCO chairman Xu Lirong explained that  the move would help “ensure China’s energy security,”  adding that it would serve as an example to other state-owned enterprises of the benefits of large-scale restructuring – a priority for the Chinese government given the domestic overcapacity in steel, coal, shipbuilding and shipping.
 
In 2014, COSCO Dalian and China Shipping Development Corporation – merged the beginning of the year as part of the COSCO-China Shipping tie-up – ranked as the number 11 and number 12 tanker companies, with 8.3 million dwt each.
 
The number one operator was MOL with 15.8 million dwt. COSCO explained that the newly formed entity would be investing in as many as 25 new LNG carriers, expanding its tonnage total.
 
“COSCO’s new step will transform its businesses into a more diversified operation model that can take full advantage of the opportunities likely to come from the Belt and Road Initiative and the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt,” said Wang Mingzhi, an official with China’s Ministry of Transport.   

Wang referred to Xi Jinping’s “One Belt, One Road” project, a continent-spanning infrastructure investment plan designed to link China with Central Asia and Europe; the Yangtze River Economic Belt is an economic development plan for the river drainage, which is home to forty percent of China’s population but varies markedly in economic vitality between its western and eastern halves.

COSCO posted a loss of $14 million in the first quarter of the year, led by poor activity in shipbuilding, marine engineering and bulk chartering, and it projected that business conditions would worsen.
 
The firm is making moves outside of vessel construction and operation: it has consolidated a financial arm in Hong Kong; diversified into offshore wind in a joint venture with DEME subsidiary GeoSea; and its ports division has been quite active, acquiring a lease to Greece’s Piraeus Port and buying a 35 percent stake in the Euromax terminal in Rotterdam.



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