Shipping industry to introduce global emissions strategy in 2018

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has approved a roadmap through to 2023 on the global adoption on an emissions reduction strategy, scheduled to come into force in 2018; although the Organisation has been criticised over delaying action.

Concluding the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee’s (MEPC) 70th session today (28 October) the IMO revealed that a global greenhouse gas emissions strategy would be adopted in 2018.

The “Comprehensive IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships” was introduced during the closing hours of the conference in London and will come into force alongside a new mandatory data collection that will apply to approximately 85% of CO2 emissions from international shipping.

“The data collection system will equip IMO with concrete data to help it make the right decisions, as well as enhancing its credentials as the best placed and competent forum for regulating international shipping,” IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said.

“IMO will inform the next Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is to meet in Marrakech, Morocco, next month, on the tangible progress made, proving to the world that IMO continues to lead in delivering on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping,”

Under the new data requirement, ships of more than 5,000 gross tonnage will be tasked with collecting data of fuel uses in regards to consumption, alongside specified data covering proxies for transport. The data will create the foundation for future decisions by the IMO in regards to emissions reductions and energy efficiency.

Data collection acts as the first in a three-step move to improve transparency in the industry. Once collated, the data can inform IMO on any policy amendments that would strengthen the roadmap.

Commenting on the agreement, the European Commission’s commissioner for transport Violeta Bulc said: Three weeks after the aviation deal in Montreal, the momentum for global action on climate remains strong.

“Today’s agreement is a milestone for a cleaner shipping sector. Data collection is an important first step, and it is very positive that we also started a discussion on a fair contribution of shipping to the climate efforts. The Commission will continue to work closely with the International Maritime Organisation and all its members for a competitive and sustainable shipping sector.”

Egregious and irresponsible

After becoming the first international body to adopt mandatory energy and carbon efficiency measures for an entire sector in 2011, the IMO – and the shipping industry as a whole – was missing from the global climate deal established in Paris in December. The Organisation also shelved plans to place an emissions cap on the world’s shipping fleet last year.

IMO chiefs will now use the roadmap to decide what role the industry can play in supporting the Paris goals.

Despite the positive steps, Transport & Environment (T&E) has accused the IMO of abandoning ship efficiency reviews. Citing analysis that suggests the even new ships will exceed current regulatory measures, T&E has accused the IMO of “preferring open-ended reviews to concrete action”.

“Nearly 20 years after being tasked with tackling climate change impacts from shipping, the IMO has enacted only one measure so far, the EEDI, and for new ships only,” Bill Hemmings, shipping director at T&E, said. “Yet it now stands in disarray. Improving ship efficiency is a no brainer and a classic example of a ‘win-win’, but apparently the IMO prefers open-ended reviews to concrete action.”

John Maggs, policy advisor at SAR and president of the Clean Shipping Coalition, added: “It beggars belief that the IMO should abandon plans to increase the stringency of design standards that are being easily met and exceeded years ahead of schedule. Backsliding is an IMO speciality, but this is a particularly egregious and irresponsible example.”

Just one day earlier at the MEPC session, 170 countries agreed on a new global deal to introduce a cap on sulphur emissions in 2020. The IMO and country representatives agreed on a deal to place a 0.5% cap on sulphur emissions from ships – to be introduced in 2020 – five years ahead of a predicted timeframe.

The deal will see sulphur emissions reduced from the maximum 3.5% of fuel content limit, with analysts claiming that the deal could prevent 200,000 premature deaths.

Matt Mace

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