IMO pushes forward to meet emission reduction targets

IMO aims, as a matter of urgency, to decarbonise international shipping in this century.

The IMO Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships is pushing forward with work to help achieve the ambitious targets set out in the initial IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emission from ships. IMO aims, as a matter of urgency, to decarbonise international shipping in this century.

National Action Plans – draft MEPC resolution agreed

The working group agreed the draft text of a resolution to urge Member States to develop and update a voluntary National Action Plan (NAP) with a view to contributing to reducing GHG emissions from international shipping. It suggests such National Action Plans could include but are not limited to

  • improving domestic institutional and legislative arrangements for the effective implementation of existing IMO instruments
  • developing activities to further enhance the energy efficiency of ships
  • initiating research and advancing the uptake of alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels
  • accelerating port emission reduction activities, consistent with resolution MEPC.323(74)
  • fostering capacity-building, awareness-raising and regional cooperation
  • facilitating the development of infrastructure for green shipping

The draft resolution will be submitted to the next Marine Environment Protection Committee session, MEPC 75 (30 March to 3 April 2020) with a view to its adoption.

Candidate measures to further reduce GHG emissions

IMO has already adopted mandatory technical and operational measures to improve the energy efficiency of ships and reduce GHG emission. The initial IMO strategy lists a number of candidate measures which could also be considered to further reduce emission, in particular 40% reduction of carbon intensity from shipping by 2030.

During the working group session, a number of proposals were discussed. The group noted that the proposals discussed fell into two goal-based approaches, a technical approach and an operational approach.

Technical approach

Proposals for a technical approach which were discussed included an Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI), which could require ships to meet set energy efficiency requirements after the measure taking effect. Other technical proposals relate to mandatory power limitation on ships.

Operational approach

Operational approaches would include focusing on strengthening the ship energy efficiency management plan, as required in SEEMP. This include proposals for mandatory carbon intensity reduction targets.

Operational proposals also include measures to optimize speed for the voyage. Proposals to limit ship speed were also discussed. There was general agreement in the group that a mandatory goal-based approach for both the technical and operational approaches would provide the needed flexibility and incentive for innovation.

A goal-based approach would set the objective to be achieved, while leaving room for a range of methods or innovation to achieve the set goal.

Alternative fuels

With a longer-term perspective, and in order to encourage the uptake of alternative low- and zero-carbon fuels in the shipping sector, the Working Group also agreed on the establishment of a dedicated workstream for the development of lifecycle GHG/carbon intensity guidelines for all relevant types of fuels.

This could include, for example, biofuels, electro-/synthetic fuels such as hydrogen or ammonia, etc.
Many participants to the meeting highlighted the importance of undertaking this work as soon as possible, in order to pave the way for the decarbonization of the shipping industry.

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