Shipping Exec Calls Out His Industry’s ‘Prostitutes’ for Delaying Climate Action
A British marine shipping executive has accused his own industry of infiltrating its international oversight body in order to “put one over” on the public about its efforts—or lack thereof—to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
“We can feel nothing but contempt and disgust at the prostitutes employed by our racket to try and put one over on the general public,” Andrew Craig-Bennett wrote, in a searing commentary published last week on a shipping trade site. Climate Home News cites Craig-Bennett as deputy general manager of the UK subsidiary of Chinese government-owned Cosco, one of the world’s largest global shipping companies, though he was speaking only for himself in his comments.
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According to Climate Home, the 41-year shipping industry veteran was responding to a report by corporate monitoring NGO Influence Map that “exposed the degree to which these shipping registries and industry lobby groups had infiltrated the body intended to regulate them.”
The NGO’s criticism “is basically right, and we all know that it is,” Craig-Bennett wrote to his industry peers.
The UN International Maritime Organization (IMO), meant to regulate international shipping, “was captured by the ship-owning interests” as soon as it admitted representatives from “flag of convenience” nations, Craig-Bennett asserted.
Such nations are willing to register ships whose owners are based elsewhere—about half of the global merchant fleet. They have long been suspected of being more interested in registration fees than overseeing the safety or working conditions of the foreign-owned vessels flying their flags.
“Our ships are interfering with the climate,” Craig-Bennett acknowledged. Yet industry lobbyists have, as Climate Home paraphrases him, “used deliberately confusing statistics about shipping emissions—roughly equal to the annual emissions of Germany—in order to mislead and delay action on carbon pollution.”
As an IMO official observer himself, Craig-Bennett wrote that he had seen first-hand a “carefully-drafted, science-based regulation, which would have improved safety and been simple to enforce, turned into a pile of scientifically unsound but ‘commercially helpful’ garbage.”
Craig-Bennett called on his peers to adopt disruptive new technologies and accept the challenge from small Pacific Island states—among those most vulnerable to climate change—to achieve zero emissions by 2035.
“Seventeen years is long enough to pay down and scrap all existing ships and replace them with something else,” he said.
The IMO has predicted that, on their present course, carbon emissions from shipping could more than triple by 2050. “Years of debate have resulted in limited restrictions,” Climate Home notes. And while the organization will discuss setting some sort of emission goals at its next meeting next April, they will not take effect before 2023 at the earliest.