Olaf Merk

19 January 2017
Make American shipping great again? premium
Eight months ago I wrote a piece on what the maritime transport agenda of Donald Trump could look like. It raised some interest in Argentina, but not in the US: shipping was not exactly heavily discussed during the election campaign. With the inauguration of Trump one day away, it is time for an update. At […]
4 January 2017
Demand-driven port development? Be careful what you wish for premium
Some statements are too banal to be repeated; yet, repeated they are. How often we hear in yet another conference on the dire prospects of shipping that “the market should decide” – as if these market decisions would be the solution rather than the main cause of shipping’s current problems. A variant of the unconditional faith in […]
22 December 2016
Ports up their game to trump climate change inertia premium
The owl of Minerva only flies at night, but it already seems fairly evident that global policy-making will be radically different from 21st January 2017. In many fields, new arrangements are needed that rely less on the current architecture of global institutions supported by nation-states willfully delegating part of their authority and implementing measures that […]
8 December 2016
Shipping’s carbon emissions: will China outsmart us all? premium
Shipping’s climate roadmap is essentially a time-buying device. It buys time for countries that want to avoid anything stringent soon, for bureaucrats that want to be sure of the feasibility of measures before proposing a target they might not attain – and for countries that are positioning themselves to be the future global thought leader […]
27 November 2016
Could a foreign firm speak for a shipping nation? premium
Most people would agree that a butcher sells meat, but should not be in charge in formulating meat quality rules and controlling them. This would present a conflict of interest – and it might get people ill. Yet, this is exactly what happens in shipping. Global rules for shipping are made by the International Maritime […]
17 November 2016
No more beach parties for shipping premium
Last month was not a particularly good month for Maersk. It lost millions of dollars, got a downgrade from rating agencies, but possibly more important, it was haunted by scandals related to the scrapping of its old ships. Long considered shipping’s leader in corporate social responsibility, the emperor suddenly seemed to have no cloths. But […]
4 November 2016
Shipping’s climate roadmap: an abject failure? premium
Again one of those weeks when shipping holds its breath. Last week, the Marine Environment Protection Committee of the IMO took place, MEPC for insiders. This resulted in good and clear decisions on sulphur and NOx, but the outcome on greenhouse gas emissions got mixed reviews. Some called it a historical milestone, others an abject […]
25 October 2016
Shipping: urgently in need of a carbon strategy premium
Shipping does not get good press. The general public only hears about us when there is a disaster, is a favourite riddle at shipping conferences, often followed by: media do not report enough about the great and silent work of transporting 90% of world trade. If only things were so simple. These days, we hear […]
13 October 2016
Shipping: the male chauvinist pig of global industries? premium
Difficult not to get distracted this week. What did he say, did he grope, who gave up on him and what is actually going on in today’s locker rooms? More fundamentally, is the simultaneous outrage and tacit acceptance of sexual assault banter part of a bigger story on current society? And, if so, what does […]
10 October 2016
Maritime transport: does the EU have a clue? premium
Two key documents on maritime transport in Europe in two weeks; and one question that emerges: does the EU know what it is doing, or is it just clueless? The first report is by the European Court of Auditors. Its title reads “In troubled waters“, a thinly concealed hint at the nature of recent EU […]