The IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) adopted the IMO’s Greenhouse Gases (1)Emissions strategy at its 72nd session, 9 - 13 April 2018. Below is a brief summary of the events leading to this important development, and an explanation of what this development entails.
- The Paris Agreement on climate change agreed in 2015 by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), entered into force in 2016. Its central aim was to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2o Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5o Celsius.
- The Paris Agreement does not include international shipping. The IMO, as regulatory body for the shipping industry, is nevertheless committed to reducing GHG emissions from international shipping, and to phase them out as soon as possible in this century.
- A roadmap for developing a “Comprehensive IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships” was approved at MEPC 70 in 2016. This roadmap (through to 2023) is generally referred to as the initial IMO GHG Strategy or “the Initial Strategy”.
The Initial Strategy
- The Initial Strategy is a framework for Member States. It sets out the levels of ambition to reduce GHG emissions, provides guiding principles and lists potential short, mid and long-term further measures with possible timelines.
- The strategy also identifies barriers to effective implementation, and supportive measures to overcome them such as capacity building, technical cooperation, research and development (R&D), and so on.
- The Initial Strategy notes that technological innovation and global introduction of alternative fuels and/or energy sources will be integral to achieving the overall ambition laid out.
- Reviews should take into account updated emission estimates, emissions reduction options for international shipping and the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC ).
The levels of ambition directing the Initial Strategy
- Carbon intensity of international shipping to decline
GHG emissions from international shipping to peak and decline
- To reduce CO2 emissions across international shipping by at least 40% by 2030, pursuing efforts towards 70% by 2050, compared to 2008 levels
Carbon intensity of the ship to decline
- To peak GHG emissions from international shipping as soon as possible and to reduce the same by at least 50% by 2050, compared to 2008 levels, whilst pursuing efforts towards phasing them out consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goals.
- The decline of the carbon intensity of the ship through implementation of further phases of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) (2) for new ships.
- To review, with the aim to strengthen the energy efficiency design requirements for ships, with the percentage improvement for each phase determined for each ship type, as appropriate.
Measures and Timelines
- Short-term measures which could be finalized and implemented between 2018 and 2023.• Improve energy efficiency with focus on EEDI and SEEMP
Mid-term measures which could be finalized and implemented between 2023 and 2030.
- Establish an Existing Fleet Improvement Programme
- Consider and analyse speed optimization and reduction as a measure
- Consider and analyse measures to address methane and volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions
- Encourage development and update of national action plans for addressing GHG emissions
- Continue and enhance technical cooperation and capacity-building activities under the Integrated Technical Cooperation (ITCP) Programme
- Consider and analyse measures to encourage port developments and other activities to facilitate reduction of GHGs
- Initiate R&D in marine propulsion and innovative technologies
- Introduce incentives for first movers to develop and take up new technologies
- Develop robust lifecycle GHG/carbon intensity guidelines for all types of fuels
- Actively promote the work of the IMO to the international community
- Undertake additional GHG emission studies and consider other studies to inform policy decisions
Long-term measures which could be finalized and implemented beyond 2030
- Implement programme for effective uptake of alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels
- Further measures for improving operational energy efficiency including SEEMP
- New/innovative emission reduction mechanism(s), possibly including Market-based Measures (MBMs), to incentivize GHG emission reduction
- Further continue and enhance technical co-operation and capacity-building activities such as under the ITCP; and
- Develop a feedback mechanism to enable lessons learned on implementation of measures to be collated and shared through a possible information exchange on best practice.
- Pursue development and provision of zero-carbon or fossil-free fuels towards decarbonisation in the second half of the century.
- Encourage and facilitate other possible new/ innovative emission reduction mechanism(s).
MEPC will hold its fourth Intersessional meeting of the Working Group on Reduction of GHG emissions from ships in September. This working group will be tasked with developing a programme of follow-up actions to the Initial Strategy, and reporting to MEPC 73 which will meet, 22-26 October 2018.
The Initial Strategy will be revised in 2023, and reviewed again 5 years thereafter.
- Greenhouse gases include Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous Oxide (N2O), Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs and HCFCs). These gases allow incoming (short wave) radiation from the sun but block infrared (long wave) radiation from leaving the earth’s surface. The trapped radiation from the sun warms the earth’s surface.
It is worth noting that Sulphur Oxides (SOx) (of which Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) is the most common) are not greenhouse gases. SOx however combine with water and air to form sulphuric acid, the main component of acid rain which causes deforestation. Regulation 14 of Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention covers emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter from ships. The current global limit of 3.5% mass/mass (m/m) shall decrease to 0.5% m/m from 1 January 2020. The 0.1% m/m limit in Emission Control Areas (ECAS) such as the Baltic Sea area, the North Sea area, the North American area, introduced on 1 January 2015, remains unaffected. Below is a link to an article on sulphur emissions published by UK P&I Club last year:
- In 2013, Chapter 4 Regulations on energy efficiency for ships to MARPOL Annex VI made the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships, and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for existing ships mandatory.
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