China, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and India have continued to obstruct and undermine every substantial proposal for tackling GHG emissions from shipping at an IMO meeting in Oslo his week.

The International Maritime Organisation’s special greenhouse gas working group meeting, which concluded today, was tasked with carrying forward a number of key initiatives aimed at reducing GHG emissions from shipping. Despite constructive proposals from the European Commission and EU states, progress on an emissions trading scheme and a levy on marine bunker fuel were blocked entirely, while China and others took every opportunity to weaken and delay plans for design and operational indexes that would reduce CO2 emissions from new and existing ships respectively.

Twelve of Sweden’s biggest importers and exporters have signed a letter of intent that will lead to the collection of data and use of environmental criteria in their shipping procurement.

These developments show that consumer pressure and campaigns pushing for greener maritime transport can indeed change the policies of commercial enterprises – we now see a shift from a position of considering the environmental impacts of shipping as “someone else’s problem” to an acknowledgement that the way in which goods are shipped is the responsibility of purchasers.

The process to reduce GHG emissions from ships is being threatened by developing countries who fail to recognise that the shipping industry is a special case and requires a special global sectoral approach.

Environment groups welcome the Fisheries Council's decision on IUU fisheries, but strongly oppose the proposed measures to tackle rising fuel prices and regret that no precautionary measures to freeze the footprint of deep water fisheries have been adopted.

European NGOs Seas At Risk, BirdLife, Greenpeace, IFAW, Oceana and WWF have issued a common statement on the new European Maritime Policy, advocating that environmental legislation, namely the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, should be at the heart of all maritime initiatives.

Brussels, 23rd May 2008. With fishermen in France, Spain and Portugal pressing their governments for state aid to help with rising fuel bills, Seas At Risk is calling on all European governments to refuse to provide such environmentally harmful subsidies.

Seas At Risk is concerned that the 110 million euros of state aid promised by the French government will be used in this way, and that other European governments will follow suit.

The NGO networks which work for the protection of the European seas will meet in Rome, during the celebrations of the European Maritime Day. They will discuss the future role of the Integrated Maritime Policy in achieving good environmental status in all European marine regions by 2020.

The 20th May 2008 was the first European Maritime Day, one of several initiatives proposed by the European Commission to celebrate Europe’s maritime heritage and the potential of our oceans and seas. The EU’s new Maritime Policy aims at solving policy conflicts originating from different economic sectors competing for the same maritime space.

Increasing levels of man-made greenhouse gases are leading to global climate change with catastrophic long-term implications for the marine environment. Stopping the rise in temperatures is the most important and urgent task facing mankind and requires action by all industries including shipping and fishing.

London, 7th April 2008. Last week the International Maritime Organisation successfully negotiated an end to the use by ships of polluting residual heavy fuel oil but made little progress on greenhouse gas emissions.