November 24, 2020

IMO Advances Measures to Reduce Emissions from International Shipping

News Source: SDG Knowledge Hub

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has agreed to a draft of new mandatory measures designed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shipping. 

The draft measures build on energy efficiency requirements already in place and provide a global enforceable regulatory framework for various technical and operational carbon reduction measures via amendments to Annex VI of the 1973 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL Convention). Included in the amendments are legally binding measures for a 40% reduction of carbon intensity compared to 2008 across the global shipping fleet by 2030 and a mandatory A-E rating system to incentivize shipowners to improve the carbon efficiency of their ships.

Current rules require ships to be built and designed to be more energy efficient than a baseline, based on the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI). Operators are also required to have a plan to improve energy efficiency through various ship-specific measures based on the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP). The draft amendments build on these requirements by providing for how ships are retrofitted and equipped, based on a new Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI), and a Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII), which addresses how a ship operates.

Under the new measures, every ship will be required to meet a specific EEXI, which measures the energy efficiency of the ship based on a required reduction factor expressed as a percentage relative to the EEDI baseline. The CII, calculated through a mandatory data collection system for fuel oil consumption for ships of greater than 5,000 gross tonnage, will determine the annual reduction factor required to ensure the ship’s continuous improvement of operational carbon intensity. An A-E rating scale will be recorded in each ship’s SEEMP, indicating CII performance levels. Ships rated D or E for three consecutive years would be required to submit a corrective action plan to achieve a C or higher. The IMO encourages administrations, port authorities, and other stakeholders to provide incentives to ships with A or B ratings. The IMO will be required to review the effectiveness of the implementation of the EEXI and CII by January 2026.

The IMO agreement follows the August 2020 publication of the Fourth GHG Study, which found that despite a 40% growth in maritime trade between 2008-2018, carbon intensity of international shipping improved roughly 30%, and total GHG emissions from shipping dropped by 7% during the same period. Responsible for 90% of world trade, shipping accounts for 3% of man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and burns 5 million barrels of fossil fuel per day. The IMO is targeting a 50% reduction in emissions by 2050 compared to 2008.

The draft amendments were developed by the seventh session of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (ISWG GHG 7) in October 2020. The MEPC subsequently approved the amendments at its 75th session in November 2020. The draft amendments will now be subject to an assessment of their impact on IMO member States, and forwarded for adoption at the MEPC’s 76th session in 2021.

Response to the draft amendment was mixed, with the International Chamber of Shipping voicing approval, and some NGOs more critical.