Ramifications of Biden/Harris Administration in United States turn towards Shipping


As the IMO MEPC meetings take place this week, the U.S. holds one of 10 powerful ‘Category A’ seats on the IMO’s Executive Council

The incoming Biden/Harris administration's climate plan includes a pledge to, “Lead the world to lock in enforceable international agreements to reduce emissions in global shipping.” In the face of the Trump administration, which has catered toward the cruise industry, general deregulation, and relaxation of controls on emissions, next week will be an indication of whether the U.S. delegation, led by the U.S. Coastguard, will insist on a strong climate stance, in line with Paris Agreement targets, which are enforceable by the incoming administration.

If they support outgoing President Trump with a proposal that has a weak climate pledge and no enforcement or penalties for ships that break these emission targets, it will exacerbate current challenges to decarbonize the shipping sector.

When the IMO put in place a voluntary emissions agreement in 2018 as a way to appease criticism of their industry, it was a voluntary agreement, not bound by national legislation, and with no short term plans - just an aspirational 2050 target. IMO members gave themselves until 2020 to negotiate an emissions plan for the next decade to 2030 and a pathway to fully decarbonize by 2050.


The Biden/Harris administration could address one of the missing pillars of the climate change movement, through both the U.S. and in global shipping by making a critical appointment for the MARAD (Maritime Administrator), who sits within the Department of Transport at the same level as the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Authority.

This role will be a crucial to transform the United State’s long neglected role in both its international and domestic shipping.

For extensive coverage on what this transformation may entail and the ramifications of a shift in the United States political landscape, please read the feature linked below: