John Denholm CBE, UK Chamber of Shipping President, 2020-2022
The world is changing at an ever-increasing speed, and throughout my time as President
I have seen at first hand how the UK Chamber of Shipping has risen to the challenge.
When I took on the role two years ago Covid was beginning to take hold, freight rates for dry bulk carriers had collapsed and cruise ships loaded with passengers were being quarantined. I knew Covid was going to have a huge impact but did not foresee what it’s impact would be on our industry let alone on society as a whole. I said in this publication in 2020 that ‘the Chamber is not just around for the good times and when things are easy; it is here to protect our great industry through the difficult times’. I hope everyone reading this would agree with me that this is exactly what the Chamber has done.
Throughout the pandemic the Chamber has worked relentlessly on behalf of our members, protecting the industry and successfully lobbying government on a range of issues.
But more widely across society, Covid has brought out the best and worst traits of mankind.
On the one hand it was incredible the way our nurses and doctors worked to bring people suffering from Covid back to health and in so doing put themselves at risk.
On the other it was extremely disappointing to witness the way countries have, and continue to, put up barriers to protect themselves in so doing made a misery of the lives of many people doing valuable jobs such as the crews on our ships, some of whom were stranded and others of whom had to stay on board their ships for a year or more.
Our seafarers are our most valuable resource and they deserve to be treated better than this.
Away from Covid, much of the work during my tenure, and specifically in the last 12 months, has been on tackling climate change and the difficult issue of decarbonisation.
I was incredibly proud that during London International Shipping Week and ahead of COP26 the Chamber took the decision to promote a target of net zero by 2050 for the shipping industry. We were one of the first shipping associations in the world to hold such a position and it demonstrates the paramount importance we attach to this issue.
We all know the world is changing quickly, and the shipping sector must keep up. The IMO still has a target of cutting emissions by 50% compared to the 2008 level, but this just isn’t good enough. If we don’t as an industry come to an agreed position quickly and push for stronger action at the IMO, decisions will be made for us by governments around the world, a situation we need to avoid.
These decisions are not just vital for us as an industry, it is vital for the future of humankind. We must take action now otherwise we are putting the whole world at risk and with it the very future of our grandchildren and great grandchildren.
In November the world came together in Glasgow for COP26 and I was fortunate to be able to attend some of the shipping events. I was greatly heartened to hear of some of the developments that are being made but we know we need the IMO to start taking some tough decisions and I am hopeful we will see progress in the coming years.
Throughout this Journal you will see the range of work the Chamber has undertaken in the last 12 months, from developments on tonnage tax, the work of the MNTB, support for ferry and cruise sectors and the newly launched mental health guidance.
I want to pay thanks to the hard work and dedication of the policy team and the work undertaken by our committees and panels; it is only through an engaged membership can the Chamber work to develop solutions to the issues we face.
Over the next 12 months there are huge challenges for our industry, but also some wonderful opportunities and as I hand over to my successor Graham Westgarth, I look forward to seeing the Chamber once again seize on these opportunities and ensure the UK shipping sector continues to go from strength to strength.