This article examines the quest for data in the negotiations on the reduction of greenhouse gases in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) from 2012 to 2020. We find that the collection of data was invoked in two different manners: holding back decision-making on emission-reduction regulations and helping the greenhouse gas negotiations move forward out of gridlock. We draw on insights from literature in science and technology studies on the politics of data and boundary objects to explore how these strategies are entangled over time. We argue that aligning around data collection and an ambiguous “three-step approach” to decision-making initially facilitated collaboration between IMO delegations despite disagreement on details. We examine how the three-step approach later morphs into what we call a mechanism for delay over the course of the negotiation period, challenging regulatory development at the pace required by opening for continuous calls for more data.

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