The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has reported ‘considerable progress’ in drafting its initial strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, but details of a finalized strategy won’t be agreed on until at least 2018, the IMO said Monday.

During the second meeting of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG from Ships, held last week in London, the IMO said that participants began shaping a draft initial IMO GHG strategy, including refining the vision for IMO on reducing GHG emissions from ships. But while the structure of the strategy has been largely agreed, the detailed text to be included in the finalized strategy is still under discussion, according to the IMO.

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said, “The working group made some considerable progress in bringing together the proposals for the different elements of the draft IMO GHG strategy. I am confident that Member States will continue to work on this ahead of the next working group session, to build convergence so that the draft initial IMO GHG strategy can be adopted as planned at the next session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee in April 2018.”

During last week’s meeting, participants in the group put forward a wide range of detailed proposals for inclusion in the draft initial strategy.

These included those relating to the vision, levels of ambition, guiding principles, candidate measures, barriers and supportive measures and follow up actions. The group agreed that the draft strategy should incorporate a process for its periodic review,” the IMO said.

The Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions from Ships was attended by more than 200 delegates, from more than 50 Member States. Participants also included international inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, including the shipping group’s International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), BIMCO, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO.

“The group agreed that candidate short-term measures could be measures finalized and agreed by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) between 2018 and 2023; candidate mid-term measures could be measures finalized and agreed by the MEPC between 2023 and 2030; and candidate long-term measures could be measures finalized and agreed by the MEPC beyond 2030. Dates of entry into force and when the measure can effectively start to reduce GHG emissions would be defined for each measure individually,” according to the IMO.

“The group highlighted the need to consider carefully the potential impact of measures on States, particularly the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The group also recognised the need to address barriers and provide supportive measures, including capacity building and technical cooperation; and research and development especially into alternative fuels,” the IMO added.

The IMO said the goal is to reach consensus at the next meeting, which will be held next April.

“The Working Group’s report, along with other submissions, will go forward to the third Intercessional Working Group session, scheduled to meet 3-6 April 2018. The third session is expected to finalize a draft initial IMO GHG strategy, to be put forward for adoption by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 72) (9-13 April 2018).

“This is in accordance with the timeline set out in the Roadmap for developing a comprehensive IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships, which was approved at MEPC 70,” the IMO said.

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) said while international shipping industry associations are ‘broadly satisfied’ with the progress made at last week’s meeting, more work still needs to be done.

“They are encouraged that the ambitious proposals from the shipping industry regarding CO2 reduction objectives for the sector as a whole remain on the table, along with similar proposals from several IMO Member States,” the ICS said in a statement.

“The meeting also made progress on a list of possible CO2 reduction measures that might be taken forward by IMO in the short, medium and longer term, with recognition that the vision of reaching zero CO2 emissions will only be achieved by supporting the development of alternative fuels and propulsion technologies, and ensuring their global availability.

“The industry associations remain confident that IMO Member States will finalise a comprehensive CO2 reduction strategy for international shipping, at the next meeting of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee in April 2018 that will fully match the ambition of the Paris Agreement on climate change.  They will continue working with all IMO Member States and environmental NGOs to help achieve this shared objective,” the ICS said.

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