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Top 10 regulators 2023

The International Maritime Organization took the right steps with its revised greenhouse gas strategy and is making sure it stays on top of shipping’s regulation agenda

Decarbonisation and sanctions remain the two most important subjects for shipping regulations in 2023 on the back of looming environmental controls and sanctions that start to bite

01 / Arsenio Dominguez, IMO

The International Maritime Organization managed to retain its role as the global shipping regulator by revising its greenhouse gas strategy to an acceptable level in 2023.

However, the real test for the UN body begins in 2024, as member states will try to find a compromise on economic and technical measures to complement the new strategy over the next couple of years.

Arsenio Dominguez was elected as secretary-general in July 2023. His first real test will be to ensure a carbon levy or another mechanism to pave the way for the shipping industry to reach its climate targets.


Ursula von der Leyen, left, and Magda Kopczynska, EU

02 / Ursula von der Leyen and Magda Kopczynska, EU

All eyes will be on Brussels in 2024, as the European Union sets the tone for shipping climate regulations by adopting some of the most ambitious climate targets for the industry.

The bloc rubber-stamped shipping’s inclusion in its Emissions Trading System and it adopted the FuelEU Maritime regulations. The implementation of the EU’s ETS will be key for shipping, as lessons learnt from it could lead the way for the IMO to set a global scheme.

EU officials — led by President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, and DG Move director-general Magda Kopczynska — will be busy in 2024 to make the necessary tweaks to FuelEU Maritime before its implementation begins in 2025.

From left: Bradley Smith (Ofac), Giles Thomson (OFSI) and Josep Borrell (EU, foreign policy chief)

03 / Bradley Smith (Ofac), Giles Thomson (OFSI) and Josep Borrell (EU, foreign policy chief)

Sanctions compliance will be very high on every shipping company’s agenda, as the US Treasury Department has pulled the trigger on five vessels that breached sanctions against Russian oil since October 2023.

Regulators on both sides of the Atlantic — including Bradley Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the US Treasury Department; Giles Thomson, director of the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation and Economic Crime at HM Treasury in the UK; and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell — will likely try to tighten the screws around sanctions to ensure compliance, as the dark fleet kept growing in 2023.

The Group of Seven price cap could require an update as breaches have been common among tankers carrying Russian oil during the past year.


Guy Platten, left, and Emanuele Grimaldi, ICS

04 / Guy Platten and Emanuele Grimaldi, ICS

Representing the consensus view of such a fragmented industry membership has always required the International Chamber of Shipping to tread a diplomatic line.

However, in the context of geopolitical uncertainties, war and a generational challenge to decarbonise, the role of the ICS as representative of 80% of the merchant fleet has become more difficult than ever.

Despite the herculean task, the team — which includes Guy Platten and Emanuele Grimaldi — has set about an impressive agenda of catalysing public-private partnerships between stakeholders from the ports, shipping, finance and energy sectors right across the energy-maritime value chain.

Eschewing the often-greenwashed statements and Memorandums of Understanding so prevalent elsewhere, the ICS has focused on building hubs of activity with long-term plans. That has been a difficult process several years in the making, but the in-roads it has made at a governmental level are finally starting to gain traction.


David Loosley, left, and Nikolaus Schües, BIMCO

05 / David Loosley and Nikolaus Schües, BIMCO

BIMCO’s work around charterparty clauses has become ever-more important in recent years, as the industry body helps shipping companies comply with new environmental regulations such as the EU’s ETS and the IMO’s Carbon Intensity Indicator.

Some shipping companies have converged around BIMCO’s ETS clause ahead of its implementation in 2024.

The efforts of the body — led by secretary-general and chief executive David Loosley, and president Nikolaus Schües — will undoubtedly rise in prominence when the IMO adopts a global economic measure such as a levy or a fund and rebate scheme in the next couple of years.


Sotiris Raptis, left, and Philippos Philis, ECSA

06 / Sotiris Raptis and Philippos Philis, ECSA

Under the leadership of secretary-general Sotiris Raptis and president Philippos Philis, ably supported by crack squad of the industry’s leading policy experts in the secretariat, the European Community Shipowners’ Associations has evolved into a dynamic and important body for shipping.

Shipping has too often fallen beneath the radar in the EU, but Raptis has ensured the industry does not just have a seat at the table; it is now a proactive partner in the Brussels machine.

The revival of the European Shipping Summit after a Covid-induced hiatus showcased just how much pull this body now has and quite how central it is to the policy debates that shape the industry.

Amid negotiations around the implementation of the EU’s ETS and efforts to shape the critical FuelEU Maritime regulations, the ECSA’s representation in Brussels is going to be more important than ever in 2024.

The political leadership of the European Commission is set to change substantially in 2024, as the new cohort of commissioners will be reshaped to fit the changing balance of power arising from the EU elections.

This is a challenge for the likes of the ECSA, as it is likely to lose political allies in key directorates — but it is also an opportunity to engage with new decision makers.

Shipping is going to be relying on the ECSA’s ability to navigate the new landscape and ensure that maritime retains its current high profile and influence.


The industry alliance

07 / The industry alliance

A veritable acronym soup of industry alliances, centres and bodies have sprung up over the past few years as industry leaders try to catalyse, collaborate and cajole their membership into a new era of green shipping.

However, it is the Global Maritime Forum that continues to be the epicentre of this industry coalition of the willing that seems to be setting the tone for the rest of the sector.

Under the auspices of these various progressive alliances, leaders from across the maritime community are setting about teaming up with policy makers, experts, non-governmental organisations and other influential decision makers to try to catalyse change before change is thrust upon them.

Some remain talking shops, others produce endless assessment reports and White Papers, but the best among them produce real changes to the way in which their members do business.

The GMF has spawned programmes such as the Poseidon Principles for Financial Institutions, and the Poseidon Principles for Marine Insurance and the Sea Cargo Charter, which have advanced industry accountability, enforcement and transparency at a remarkable pace among their membership.

The Getting to Zero Coalition is now a powerful alliance of more than 200 organisations.

If the membership of these alliances can bridge the gap between their rhetoric and the detail of their actions, they hold within their grasp the ability to engender real change at the top of the industry that will inevitably cascade across maritime trade.


The green lobby

08 / The green lobby

From Transport & Environment’s role in EU shipping regulation debate to Clean Arctic Alliance’s work on making sure IMO decisions take indigenous Inuit populations into account, the green lobby remains one of the most important actors in shipping’s sustainability conversation.

Shipping will most likely need to ratchet up its climate targets in the coming decades if global warming continues at this pace.

NGO efforts to request such targets will be crucial in the coming years to hold global or regional regulators accountable.


Teo Eng Dih, Singapore Maritime & Port Authority

09 / Teo Eng Dih, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore

The world’s top bunkering hub will set the tone for alternative fuel bunkering operations for the rest of the ports.

Singapore alone accounts for some 15%-20% of total global refuelling operations, with around 50m tonnes per annum.

The stance of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore on alternative fuel bunkering operations will be key.

Under its chief executive Teo Eng Dih, the careful approach of the MPA to ship-to-ship ammonia bunkering tests has raised awareness in the industry regarding the potential safety aspects.

The port pioneered the mandatory use of mass flow meters in bunker fuel deliveries in 2013. The world’s second-biggest bunkering hub Rotterdam will make MFMs mandatory in 2026.


Daniel Maffei, US Federal Maritime Commission

10 / Daniel Maffei, US Federal Maritime Commission

The US Federal Maritime Commission under chairman Daniel Maffei has been reinvigorated since the signing of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act and, while it remains small in comparison to other arms of the US regulatory machine, it has been making its presence felt in 2023.

Shippers have made robust use of the expedited charge complaint process established under OSRA to dispute detention and demurrage fees levied by ocean carriers and terminal operators — a thorny issue that was exacerbated during the supply chain crisis when congestion disrupted the flow of cargo.

The commissioners have been ploughing through record numbers of cases and both shippers and the lines appear to have woken up to the increased scrutiny as a result. The FMC’s more robust approach to increased penalties reflects a tougher approach globally from regulators looking at the box sector in particular.

Policy makers in Europe also tightened scrutiny of shipowners in 2023 when they axed the industry’s exemption from its antitrust laws.


The Top 10 in regulation list is compiled by the Lloyd's List editorial team and considers people in a position to influence large-scale change in shipping industry



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