Poseidon, god of ocean, interrupts IMO meeting urging emissions cuts

As delegates sipped their drinks and munched on canapés to celebrate the first day of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC80) on July 3 at the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) HQ, they were interrupted by Poseidon, god of the ocean, who burst into the room accompanied by two desperate, dripping, mer-people.

Appalled by the state of the dying ocean and the IMO’s failure to offer any environmental help, Poseidon had swum up the Thames to make a last-minute plea to the IMO. He had already sent a letter to the IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim, which was ignored. This left Poseidon with no choice but to leave his watery realm to infiltrate the IMO HQ and, as head of state of 71 percent of the earth’s surface, directly make his demands known.

Poseidon was dressed in a fetching cloak of seaweed with a dazzling seaweed diadem. Sadly, his accompanying merfolk appeared to be poisoned by marine pollutants and tangled in discarded fishing nets – fishing waste makes up 70 percent of marine microplastics.

Poseidon proclaimed: “Our oceans are overheating. The seas are acidifying. The ocean oxygen needed for humans and merfolk to breathe is disappearing. Our majestic merfolk are being trapped in all sorts of discarded rubbish and caught by lost containers. Plastic pollution litters the beaches and the seabed and is snaring sea life. 

“The shipping you regulate is a major contributor to this, with spills of oil, plastic nodules, ghost nets, chemicals and food waste all creating a toxic pollution mix which is playing a major part in climate and nature collapse. My watery realm is becoming uninhabitable! And the air you breathe is too – just think how many lives have been shortened by breathing the noxious fumes of heavy fuel oil, shame on you!

“At the MEPC meetings this week, these issues will be discussed. But the time for more blablabla is long gone. You will now act, push obstructing states back into history where they belong, and begin the real, near-term steps needed to get shipping emissions down by 50 percent by 2030. This is in line with Paris Agreement targets, and not far off demands of EU, UK, US and Canada. It’s completely doable—just do it.”

Across the street, delegates could see two suited lobbyists unfurling a banner which said “50% down by 2030=1.5 degrees”.

The IMO is revising its existing climate strategy which currently only aims to halve shipping emissions by 2050 and delegates are meeting in London to conclude its strategy revision.

Ocean Rebellion, the organizer of the protest, calls on IMO Member States to:

  • follow the science and commit to halve ship emissions by 2030
  • force ships to slow down to rapidly cut emissions
  • prioritize wind power for ships, new and old
  • speed up roll-out of new climate-friendly fuels
  • steeply price the carbon in shipping fuels
  • make sure no-one is left behind by helping countries in need

Photo credit: Guy Reece

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