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Fafalios urges care over R&D fund scheme

After all the hype about a research and development fund into shipping emissions comes a warning that such a fund should be properly targeted and not burn money for little result

GSCC leader takes IMO to task for ‘imperfect’ 2020 regulation and warns that $5bn research proposal could lead to ‘bottomless pit’

GREEK Shipping Co-operation Committee chairman Haralambos Fafalios has questioned proposals for a research and development fund to advance the industry’s decarbonisation.

Front-rank shipping organisations such as the International Chamber of Shipping, Intercargo, Intertanko and BIMCO recently got together to launch the proposal, that envisages “core funding” from shipping companies to the tune of $5bn over 10 years.

The idea was to establish an International Maritime Research and Development Board, a non-governmental R&D organisation that would be overseen by IMO member states.

But Mr Fafalios warned that such a fund should be properly targeted and not burn money for little result.

“In the quest to find solutions to our longer-term propulsion issues it has been suggested that a fund is created in order to spur on more research and development,” he told guests at a traditional New Year event organised by the GSCC.

“One has to be very careful to ensure that such a fund will channel its resources in the right direction and not become a bottomless pit of misused financial resources,” Mr Fafalios said.

The GSCC leader is understood to believe that the maritime R&D market may struggle to absorb funds on the scale envisaged and that there is a risk of hundreds of millions being wasted in unproductive directions.

Meanwhile, it was mainly the responsibility of shipbuilders and marine propulsion manufacturers “to look for the appropriate future powerplants that our industry will need,” he said.

Mr Fafalios hoped for “a closer dialogue” between regulators and the shipping industry to find workable solutions for decarbonising shipping prior to the IMO’s 2030 and 2050 deadlines.

He branded as “imperfect” the IMO’s 2020 sulphur cap that came into force at the start of this year.

“Supply problems, quality problems and pricing problems are reigning worldwide as global shipping companies are doing their best to cope with yet another imperfectly thought-out piece of legislation,” he said.

Mr Fafalios cited the difficulty of removing non-compliant fuels still on board vessels before the carriage ban deadline of March 1, noting that the situation stemmed from charterers’ decisions.

“IMO cannot solely regulate ship operators directly without taking into account the pivotal role of charterers, oil refiners and bunker suppliers,” he argued.

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