The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies' (TES)
Volume 7, Number 2, 2008

ISSN 1602-2297

United Nations’ Regulatory Policy under Changing Advocacy Coalitions: Th e Case of Th e Maritime Transport of Renewable Primary Products

Thomas Höfer
Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), Th ielallee 88-92, 14195 Berlin

Lutz Mez
Environmental Policy Research Centre (FFU), Otto Suhr Institute for Political Science, Freie Universität Berlin, Ihnestr. 22, 14195 Berlin

Abstract: Coastlines and birds blackened by mineral oil are an icon for the risks involved in the transport of mineral oils. Regulations governing such transport have been developed since the end of the 19th century. In the 1970s, international environmental protection standards were introduced through Annex I of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution by Ships and it’s Amendments (MARPOL 73/78) for mineral (black) oil tankers. Regulation of the maritime transport of other bulk liquids, such as chemicals, in special tank ships (chemical tankers) has also been developed since that time (as Annex II to MARPOL), thus leaving the transport of vegetable oils more or less unregulated. Today, about a third of the tank ship capacity non-licensed for mineral oils is used for vegetable (white) oils. Volumes are increasing. Marine environmental protection became an issue when fl oating vegetable oils coated birds and European coastlines in the early 1990s. As this damage to birds were caused by operational discharge and not by accident, no press pictures of oiled animals appeared in the media. Th e revision of the environmental regulations was advocated only by experts in maritime aff airs and pollution prevention. It took the maritime community several years to acknowledge that white oils produced similar hazards just as the black oils and needed stricter regulations.
Th is report starts with the identifi cation of impacts on the coastal environment and a critique of the scientifi c principles of hazard evaluation. It will end with the fi nal approval of a new regulatory system. Th e actors and stakeholders, together with the instruments and successful strategies involved, will be identifi ed. Th e case study will show the complexity of policy instruments, the social and economic interests and the technical maritime standards which need to be taken into consideration, even when amending one specifi c section of an international treaty. Th is case report documents and discusses the integration of environmental policy into maritime shipping policy. Th is paper is a case study on the revision of an international instrument to cope with the risks involved in the transport of renewable primary products. It will demonstrate by using the Advocacy Coalition Approach how comparatively strong rules for environmental protection have been introduced for a fully globalised business under the remit of several United Nations bodies..

Keywords: IMO, Renewables, Shipping, Environmental Policy, Advocacy Coalitions

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