17 nov 2019

Meeting last week, the IMO has agreed that a goal-setting approach is the best way to reduce carbon emissions in the short-term. Full details of the approach will be resolved next year.

States and NGO’s discussed the details and the complexities of the different submitted proposals and how they would cut emissions and impact states. After lengthy discussions it was clear that there was no appetite for prescriptive speed reduction regulation.

The IMO concluded that a mandatory goal-based approach will provide the needed flexibility and incentive for continued innovation across the industry and will be the best way to reduce emissions. Two methods, in line with the industry’s proposal, were recognized: a technical and an operational approach.

Proposals for a technical approach which were discussed included an Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI), which could require ships to meet set energy efficiency requirements after the measure taking effect. Other technical proposals relate to mandatory power limitation on ships.

Operational approaches would include focusing on strengthening the ship energy efficiency management plan, as required in SEEMP. This includes proposals for mandatory carbon intensity reduction targets. Operational proposals also include measures to optimize speed for the voyage. Proposals to limit ship speed were also discussed.

It was agreed that the two approaches would be further refined, and their implementation and enforcement would also be developed at the next meeting in London next year.

The IMO is committed to working to combat climate change in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 on climate action.

National Action Plans – draft MEPC resolution agreed

The IMO Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships also agreed the draft text of an MEPC resolution which would urge Member States to develop and update a voluntary National Action Plan (NAP) with a view to contributing to reducing GHG emissions from international shipping.

It suggests such National Action Plans could include: (a) improving domestic institutional and legislative arrangements for the effective implementation of existing IMO instruments, (b) developing activities to further enhance the energy efficiency of ships, (c) initiating research and advancing the uptake of alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels, (d) accelerating port emission reduction activities, consistent with resolution MEPC.323(74), (e) fostering capacity-building, awareness-raising and regional cooperation and (f) facilitating the development of infrastructure for green shipping.

The draft resolution will be submitted to the next Marine Environment Protection Committee session, MEPC 75 (March 30 to April 3, 2020) with a view to its adoption.

Alternative fuels

With a longer-term perspective, and in order to encourage the uptake of alternative low- and zero-carbon fuels in the shipping sector, the Working Group also agreed on the establishment of a dedicated workstream for the development of lifecycle GHG/carbon intensity guidelines for all relevant types of fuels. This could include, for example, biofuels, electro-/synthetic fuels such as hydrogen or ammonia.

Fourth IMO GHG Study

The Fourth IMO GHG Study will include an inventory of current global emissions of GHGs and relevant substances emitted from ships of 100GT and above engaged in international voyages. The inventory should include total annual GHG emission series from 2012 to 2018, or as far as statistical data are available.

GHGs are defined as the six gases initially considered under the UNFCCC process: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). The inventory should also include other relevant substances that may contribute to climate change, including Black Carbon. The previous, third IMO GHG study, was published in 2014.


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