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IMO adopts climate change strategy for shipping

16 April 2018

At the 72nd meeting of its Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted an initial strategy on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships.

The initial strategy envisages for the first time a reduction in total GHG emissions from international shipping which, it says, should peak as soon as possible and to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, while, at the same time, pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely.

The strategy represents a framework for IMO member states, setting out the future vision for international shipping, the “levels of ambition” to reduce GHG emissions and guiding principles; and includes candidate short-, mid- and long-term further measures with possible timelines and their impacts on member states. The strategy also identifies barriers and supportive measures including capacity building, technical cooperation and R&D.

The MEPC will hold the fourth Intersessional meeting of the Working Group on Reduction of GHG emissions from ships later this year. This working group will be tasked with developing a program of follow-up actions to the initial strategy; further considering how to progress reduction of GHG emissions from ships in order to advise the committee; and reporting to the next session of the MEPC (MEPC 73), which meets 22-26 October 2018.

According to the “Roadmap” approved by the IMO in 2016, the initial strategy is due to be revised by 2023. The IMO noted that technological innovation and the global introduction of alternative fuels and/or energy sources for international shipping will be integral to achieve the GHG reduction goals. Reviews should take into account updated emission estimates, emissions reduction options for international shipping, as well as the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The initial strategy identifies three levels of ambition for the international shipping sector:

  1. Carbon intensity of the ship to decline through implementation of further phases of the energy efficiency design index (EEDI) for new ships—to review and strengthen the energy efficiency design requirements for ships with the percentage improvement for each phase to be determined for each ship type;
  2. Carbon intensity of international shipping to decline—to reduce CO2 emissions per transport work, as an average across international shipping, by at least 40% by 2030, pursuing efforts towards 70% by 2050, compared to 2008; and
  3. GHG emissions from international shipping to peak and decline—to peak GHG emissions from international shipping as soon as possible and to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 whilst pursuing efforts towards phasing them out as a point on a pathway of CO2 emissions reduction consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goals.

In addition to strengthened EEDI requirements, other candidate GHG emission reduction measures considered in the strategy include operational efficiency measures, further speed reductions, measures to address CH4 and VOC emissions, alternative low-carbon and zero carbon fuels, as well as market-based measures (MBM).

In 2011, IMO adopted a suite of technical and operational requirements for new and existing vessels (such as the EEDI index) that entered into force in 2013. By 2025, new ships built are expected to be 30% more energy efficient than those built in 2014. The requirements include a mandatory data collection system for fuel oil consumption of ships, which entered into force in March 2018, designed to provide robust data and information to guide future decisions on additional measures.

Source: IMO