Cablegate: Imo: London Convention Report - 29th

DE RUEHLO #0981/01 0951354
R 041354Z APR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. SUMMARY: The International Maritime Organization
(IMO) combined annual meetings for both the 1972
London Convention on the Prevention of Marine
Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter
(the 'London Convention') and the 1996 Protocol to
the London Convention (the 'London Protocol') took
place in London, November 5 to 9, 2007. The
meetings, which were held concurrently, achieved
success in a number of key areas, including a
strong statement on the emerging and controversial
issue of ocean iron fertilization that urged
"States to use the utmost caution when considering
proposals for large-scale ocean fertilization
operations" and took the view that "given the
present state of knowledge regarding ocean
fertilization, such large-scale operations are
currently not justified." Parties agreed to
continue studying the scientific and legal
perspectives of ocean iron fertilization through
the London Convention/Protocol Scientific Groups
and a Legal Correspondence Group, with a view to
its eventual regulation. The London Protocol
parties approved a compliance mechanism (which the
United States helped to shape, even though we are
not yet Protocol members), and adopted guidelines
for sub-seabed carbon sequestration. The meetings
also agreed to implement a strategic project to
remove barriers to compliance with the Convention
and Protocol. Asked about our progress in ratifying
the London Protocol, the U.S. delegation informed
the meeting that the President has submitted the
Protocol to the Senate for its advice and consent.

--------------------------------------------- ------
Overview and Status of London Convention and
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. The Convention on the Prevention of Marine
Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter,
1972 (the London Convention) established a first-
ever global regime for the protection of the marine
environment from pollution caused by ocean dumping
and incineration at sea. It now has eighty-two
Parties. The United States became a Party in 1975.

3. The 1996 Protocol to the London Convention (the
London Protocol), a free-standing treaty,
represents the culmination of an intensive effort
to update the Convention to reflect current views
on protection of the ocean and scientific
improvements in environmental assessments. The
Protocol is intended to eventually supersede the
original London Convention. Unlike the London
Convention, which lists substances that may not be
dumped, the Protocol prohibits ocean dumping of any
waste or other matter except for those specifically
allowed to be considered for dumping (a "reverse
list"). The text of the Protocol was adopted by
Contracting Parties to the London Convention
parties in 1996, and the United States signed the
Protocol in 1998. The Protocol entered into force
March 24, 2006. Currently 32 states are Parties to
the 1996 Protocol, with at least seven more
(including the United States) actively working
towards accession. (NOTE: President Bush
transmitted the Protocol to the U.S. Senate
September 6, 2007, with his recommendation that the
Senate give early and favorable consideration to
this Protocol and give its advice and consent to
ratification. END NOTE.)

Ocean Iron Fertilization

4. Iron fertilization is a potential greenhouse gas
mitigation technique that works, in theory, by
adding iron to stimulate phytoplankton blooms that

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sequester carbon dioxide in nutrient deficient
regions of the ocean. In the spring of 2007 a U.S.
company gained international attention when it
announced plans for an iron fertilization project,
for which it planned to sell carbon credits. The
Scientific Groups of the London Convention and
Protocol took up this controversial issue at their
June 2007 meeting, and issued a "Statement of
Concern" saying that the current knowledge about
the effectiveness and potential environmental
impacts of iron fertilization was "insufficient to
justify large-scale operations," and also forwarded
the issue to the general meetings of Convention and
Protocol parties to consider "with a view to
ensuring adequate regulation of such operations."

5. The November annual meeting of London Convention
and Protocol parties saw lively discussions on the
topic in plenary and break-out working group
sessions throughout the week. Several parties and
observers presented statements expressing their
opposition to a proposal by a U.S. company for a
ten-thousand square kilometer iron fertilization
experiment approximately 350 miles west of the
Galapagos Islands. Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia,
Ecuador, Italy, Spain, Panama, Peru and Greenpeace
International all expressed opposition to this
particular proposal, and in some cases, to the
concept of ocean iron fertilization in general. A
statement by Vanuatu that nations should focus on
reducing carbon dioxide emissions at the source
rather than looking for potentially dangerous
interim carbon sequestration solutions received
noticeable indications of tacit support in the
plenary session.

6. After considerable discussion about how to best
handle this issue, the London Convention and
Protocol parties endorsed the Scientific Groups'
June 2007 "Statement of Concern" and agreed that
the scope of work of the London Convention and
Protocol included ocean fertilization, as well as
iron fertilization, and that the London Convention
and Protocol were competent to address this issue
within the jurisdiction of these treaties.
Convention and Protocol parties also agreed that
the legal and scientific aspects of the issue
needed to be further investigated during the
intersessional period, in order to reach a more
informed decision on how to address this issue at
the next annual meeting in October 2008. The
meeting outcome that received the most attention in
the press was the agreed text that said:
"recognizing that it was within the purview of each
State to consider proposals on a case-by-case basis
in accordance with the London Convention and
Protocol, parties urged States to use the utmost
caution when considering proposals for large-scale
ocean fertilization operations. The governing
bodies took the view that, given the present state
of knowledge regarding ocean fertilization, such
large-scale operations were currently not

7. The United States joined this consensus, but in
numerous interventions also tried to balance the
concerns about the uncertain efficacy and potential
adverse side effects of iron fertilization with the
need for further scientific investigations to
explore the potential of iron fertilization as a
climate change mitigation strategy.

8. COMMENT: The emerging and controversial issue of
iron fertilization seemed to dominate the agenda,
and was the main topic of conversation during
coffee breaks and in the corridors. Throughout the
discussions on iron fertilization, the United
States strove to make the point that uncertainties
about the efficacy and potential adverse side
effects of iron fertilization should not be used as
reasons to rule out further scientific
investigations on a potentially powerful tool for

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mitigating global warming. Nevertheless, when
voicing support for the final agreed text on iron
fertilization, the U.S. delegation noted to the
plenary that our concerns about allowing continued
research should not be misconstrued as endorsing
any particular ocean fertilization project,
proposal or entity, or promoting the concept in
general at this time. Despite the fact that the
only private companies with announced plans for
iron fertilization "experiments" are currently U.S.
firms, the negative attention garnered by the issue
did not detract from the U.S. delegation's ability
to help negotiate a balanced final outcome
statement, nor hinder our leadership on other
critical London Convention and Protocol issues. END

CO2 Sequestration

9. At the 2006 annual meeting, London Protocol
parties agreed to the adoption of an amendment to
the Protocol that would amend Annex 1 (the "reverse
list") to explicitly allow sequestration of carbon
dioxide streams from carbon dioxide capture
processes into sub-seabed geological formations
(but not into the water column). That amendment
took effect on February 10, 2007; however certain
details of the carbon sequestration issue were left
for the Protocol's Scientific Group to resolve.
Earlier in 2007 the Scientific Group developed
specific guidelines for carbon dioxide
sequestration in sub-seabed geological formations,
and this meeting of the Contracting Parties adopted
these "Guidelines for Assessment of Carbon Dioxide
Streams for Disposal into Sub-seabed Geological
Formations" and agreed to keep them under review
and update them in five years or earlier, as
warranted in light of new developments. The meeting
also instructed the Scientific Group to develop an
appropriate uniform format for the reporting of
data, and to present this format at the next annual
meeting in October 2008.

10. London Protocol Parties also addressed the
potential issue of transboundary pollution
resulting from sub seabed injection of carbon
dioxide, and established a legal and technical
working group on transboundary carbon sequestration
issues. The Parties adopted the legal and technical
working group's terms of reference and accepted
Germany's offer to host the planned meeting of the
legal and technical working group in early 2008.
The terms of reference call for a legal evaluation
of whether Article 6 of the Protocol, regarding
export of wastes and other matter for disposal at
sea, might need to be amended to allow
transboundary transport of CO2 intended for
sequestration in sub-seabed geological formations.
They also call for consideration of the need for
additional monitoring, notification, reporting,
permitting, and other requirements.

Compliance Procedures and Mechanism

11. The meetings achieved progress on the London
Protocol's compliance procedures and mechanism and
related procedures, which had been under discussion
for many years and needed to be in place by March
2008. Parties adopted compliance procedures and
mechanisms pursuant to Article 11 of the Protocol.
While the United States (which was active in the
discussions even though not yet a Protocol party)
had long resisted establishment of a formal
compliance group with a set number of members and
preferred to have compliance handled on a case-by-
case basis as had been done under the London
Convention, the final result is less onerous and
has more procedural safeguards than some other

LONDON 00000981 004 OF 007

mechanisms that have been recently developed in
other multilateral environmental agreements. For
example, although the Compliance Group is limited
to 15 members, elected by the Meeting of
Contracting Parties and having equitable geographic
representation, the meetings of the Compliance
Group are open to any party or non-party observer
except when a Party whose compliance is in question
requests a closed meeting. In addition the
authority of the Compliance Group is limited and it
may not take measures directly against a party
having problems with compliance and instead can
only make recommendations to the Meeting of
Contracting Parties to this end. In addition,
safeguards were added to the "party-to-party"
submission in that the reporting party must first
undertake consultations with the subject party
before raising a compliance issue with the
Compliance Group. Further, notice of all
submissions shall be sent to all Parties for their
information, to increase transparency.

12. Finally, the United States also achieved
inclusion of language recognizing the competence of
the International Atomic Energy Agency over all
issues involving radioactive wastes and other
matter. This section (which recognized the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as the
competent international body for all issues
involving radioactive wastes and other radioactive
matter, and for radiation protection of humans and
the environment), was an item the U.S. delegation
specifically requested be reinserted back into the
compliance procedures document. It stated that for
compliance matters involving radioactive wastes and
other radioactive matter, the Secretariat shall
refer the matter to the IAEA for technical
evaluation and review, and the compliance group
will take the IAEA's evaluation into account in its
consideration of the matter. The U.S. delegation
took this position as it did not want the
compliance group to take independent action on
radiological issues without IAEA involvement and
advice. With these and other safeguards the
Compliance Group should be a useful addition to the
London Protocol regime. The United States will
remain actively engaged in the implementation of
the procedures and mechanisms.

Artificial Reefs and Placement

13. An ongoing discussion within the London
Convention concerns the placement of material into
the ocean for purposes other than disposal of that
material, e.g. the creation of artificial reefs. A
Correspondence Group had been working
intersessionally to develop "Guidance for the
Placement of Artificial Reefs." This group met
informally during the week of the London meetings
to discuss progress that has been made, and the
Chair of the Correspondence Group sought approval
of a revised and abbreviated document. The United
States noted that the proposed format was a useful
way forward but also noted that we will be able to
provide more substantive comments on the next

14. In plenary, Japan made an intervention
asserting that the Guidelines are legally non-
binding and intended only for "developing
countries." The Chair of the Scientific Groups (a
member of the U.S. delegation) responded by
agreeing that the Guidelines are legally non-
binding, but challenged the notion that they are
intended only for "developing countries," by
pointing out that they should be useful for a much
broader audience. The plenary concluded discussion
on the topic by urging Parties to provide comments
and relevant information to the Chair of the
Correspondence Group to assist with the

LONDON 00000981 005 OF 007

finalization of the Guidelines, and agreeing that
the final Guidelines should be submitted to the
Governing Bodies with a view to their adoption at
their next joint session in October 2008.

15. The issue of the ex-USS ORISKANY (a former
aircraft carrier the U.S. Navy used to create an
artificial reef off the coast of Florida), which
Greenpeace International raised at the 2006 annual
meeting, citing concerns over PCBs, was not
mentioned at the 2007 meeting.

Scientific Work Group Issues and Actions

16. The London Convention has a Scientific Group
that meets each spring and works intersessionally
on the technical issues of ocean dumping. The
London Protocol Scientific Group meets concurrently
with the London Convention's Scientific Group,
through an agreed arrangement that the offices of
Chair and Vice-Chair would consist of members
representing both Parties to the Protocol and to
the Convention.

17. The departing Chair of the London Convention
Scientific Groups provided an overview of the 30th
session of the Scientific Group (held in June
2007), and the meeting adopted the recommendations
of this 30th Scientific Group session including the
endorsement of the "Statement of Concern" on ocean
iron fertilization, adoption of the "Guidelines for
Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Streams for Disposal
into Sub-seabed Geological Formations", adoption of
the terms of reference for the legal and technical
working group on transboundary carbon sequestration
issues, and the adoption of a strategic approach
for implementing the barriers to accession,
implementation and compliance project. The
Contracting Parties adopted standing terms of
reference for both the London Convention and London
Protocol Scientific Groups. Among other things, the
two Groups are to work co-operatively in all
matters of joint interest and mandate, while
ensuring that matters of importance to the London
Convention and London Protocol are adequately
addressed. The Scientific Groups will hold their
next meeting May 19-23 in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

--------------------------------------------- ---
Technical Cooperation and Barriers to Compliance
--------------------------------------------- ---

18. Parties made note of various technical
cooperation projects over the past year to improve
compliance with the London Convention and Protocol.
They also noted a work group meeting in Spain last
May on implementation of an e-form for reporting of
dumping activities. The meeting discussed several
outreach activities to raise the profile of the
London Protocol and encourage additional countries
to join it, such as workshops on the Protocol
sponsored by the UNEP Regional Seas Programme, in
particular a workshop on ocean dumping in February
2007 in Bahrain for countries in the Middle East
and another outreach workshop on ocean dumping
given in Ecuador in October 2007.

19. The governing bodies reviewed and adopted a
Work Plan aimed at a strategic approach to helping
countries overcome barriers to accession,
implementation and compliance with the London
Convention and Protocol. This Work Plan will help
to prioritize support for States to overcome the
legislative, institutional, technical and socio-
economic barriers that have been identified towards
full compliance with the London Convention and
Protocol. The governing bodies noted with
appreciation the substantial contributions pledged
to execute this Work Plan by Canada (CS$25000),
France (US$250000), Italy (US$10000), United States

LONDON 00000981 006 OF 007

(US$20000), UNEP (US$8000) and Spain (amount yet to
be confirmed), while the Secretariat informed the
Meetings that US$63500 had been set aside in the
IMO-ITCP for this purpose, focusing on countries in
Eastern Europe and the CIS States for the period
2008 to 2009, as well as US$30000 for Africa in
2008. The governing bodies also noted with
appreciation the completion of the long-awaited
Waste Assessment Guidance Tutorial and progress
with communicating and distributing the Tutorial to
the various intended audiences.


20. Certain issues related to marine environmental
protection that are, in part, also covered by other
international agreements such as MARPOL, are
referred to as "boundary issues." Canada reported
on the efforts of a joint working group between the
London Convention/Protocol and the IMO's Marine
Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) to
clarify boundary issues between the
Convention/Protocol and MARPOL, particularly with
respect to spoilt cargoes. Canada, the lead
country, is preparing a revised draft of "advice to
mariners" on managing spoilt cargoes under both
instruments, taking into account comments on an
earlier draft submitted by the United States and
the Netherlands. Canada intends to submit "final
draft" text for review by the London Scientific
Groups in May 2008 and later by the Convention and
Protocol governing bodies and MEPC 58 (October

21. The U.S. view is that the disposal of spoilt
cargo at sea is subject to regulation under MARPOL
only if it constitutes "garbage" as defined in
MARPOL Annex V, regulation 1. Otherwise, it is
subject to regulation as "dumping" within the
London Convention/Protocol. Whether the disposal of
a particular spoilt cargo is subject to the London
Convention/Protocol or MARPOL Annex V must be
determined on a case-by-case basis. Moreover, a
careful review of Annex V and its implementing
Guidelines led us to the conclusion that spoilt
cargoes in most if not all cases do not fall under
Annex V.

22. The United Kingdom reported on the development
of advice by the London Scientific Groups'
intersessional correspondence group on the
management of waste streams resulting from the
removal of anti-fouling systems from ships. The
volume of these waste streams is expected to
increase as a result of the impending entry into
force (September 2008) of the Anti-Fouling Systems
Convention (AFS). The Scientific Groups will
continue their work with the aim of submitting
advice to MEPC 58 and the next meeting of the
London Convention and Protocol governing bodies.

Elections and Meeting Dynamics

23. Similar to the 2006 annual meeting, this
combined London Protocol and London Convention
meeting was ably chaired by Mr. Victor Escobar of
Spain, who was particularly effective in guiding
the meeting through the discussions on the
controversial iron fertilization issue. The First
Vice-Chair, Ms. Chen Yue from China, took a less
active role, allowing Mr. Escobar to lead the
meeting. Mr. Escobar and Ms. Chen were unanimously
re-elected as Chair and First Vice Chair,
respectively, for the intersessional period and the
next meetings of the London Convention and London
Protocol, which will be held October 27 - 31, 2008,
in London. As no candidates have been nominated for
the post of Second Vice Chair, the Secretariat will

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approach possible nominees via appropriate channels
and prepare a shortlist of candidates, focusing on
candidates from developing countries, for
consideration by member states before the next


24. This meeting of the London Convention and
London Protocol parties was a success from the U.S.
perspective. All the attention received by iron
fertilization might seem to diminish the
significance of some of the achievements at this
meeting on other important issues covered by the
London Convention and Protocol. However, the
mainstay issues of the London Convention and
Protocol (dumping of dredged material and other
material at sea) will continue to be critical
issues for all coastal and maritime states,
especially given the increased overall concerns
about land-based sources of marine pollution, and
the upward trend of maritime trade resulting from
increased globalization. If and when the United
States ratifies the 1996 London Protocol (which is
currently before the Senate), our membership in the
Protocol will reaffirm our leadership role in
international efforts to control marine pollution
and protect the environment of the world's oceans.


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