Hughes has worked at the IMO since late 2010. Image Credit: IMO
Edmund Hughes, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) official who has overseen its emissions regulation policies for much of the past decade, is leaving the UN body to set up a consultancy.
Hughes has worked at the IMO since late 2010, and served as its head of air pollution and energy efficiency since June 2013.
The timing of his departure will come as a surprise to many in the shipping and bunker industries, just five weeks into the biggest regulatory change the industries have seen in living memory.
But for Hughes the timing may be auspicious, at a point when the organisation itself is hailing a "relatively smooth" IMO 2020 transition, before any major technical problems with the new fuels have emerged and before the bigger headaches over how to address shipping's carbon emissions start to bite.
When Hughes joined the organisation the global sulfur limit for marine fuels was still 4.50%. During his time at the IMO that level was cut to 3.50% in 2012 and to 0.50% at the start of this year, and the limit in the emission control areas was cut to 0.10% in 2015.
The organisation also set a strategy on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction for the first time, adopted in 2018.
Roel Hoenders, formerly a technical officer at the IMO, is taking over as acting head of air pollution and energy efficiency, the IMO said Wednesday.
Hoenders faces a full inbox after his promotion, with the GHG initial strategy due to be revised by 2023.
Some IMO member states are likely to want to toughen the strategy and others to water it down, and at present few in the way of concrete measures to achieve it are in place.
After leaving the IMO Hughes has now set up a consultancy called Green Marine Associates.