By Dr. Izyan Munirah Mohd Zaideen, senior lecturer at Faculty of Maritime Studies, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu; and Captain Mohd Faizal Ramli, EHS marine specialist in oil and gas sector.
The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) examines environmental issues under the scope of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). In the recently concluded MEPC 80, issues including greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships, air pollution prevention, energy efficiency of the ship, ballast water review, and identification and protection of special areas, were discussed. MEPC 80 was conducted at IMO headquarters in London, with hybrid participation, from July 3 to 7. Malaysia was represented by the government, relevant agencies and associations.
The MEPC 80 session adopted the 2023 IMO strategy on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships, which includes fresh goals for reducing harmful emissions. The revised IMO GHG strategy includes an increased common objective to achieve net-zero GHG emissions from international shipping by 2050, a commitment to ensure the use of alternative zero and near-zero GHG fuels by 2030, and indicative checkpoints for 2030 and 2040.
MEPC 80 considered commencing a course of action on onboard carbon capture, storage, or utilization. Furthermore, MEPC 80 adopted the “Guidelines on Life Cycle GHG Intensity of Marine Fuels” (LCA Guidelines), which detailed procedures for calculating GHG emissions from well to wake and tank to wake for all fuels and other energy sources (such as electricity) utilized on board a ship.
Furthermore, the IMO has decided to implement a package of measures to reduce GHG emissions in the medium and long term, with two parts: a technical element that will be a goal-based marine fuel standard regulating the phased reduction of marine fuel GHG intensity; and an economic element that will be some sort of maritime GHG emissions pricing mechanism, possibly linked directly to the GHG intensity mechanism.
MEPC 80 also agreed on a circular that gives a common way to account for the use of biofuels under Regulations 26, 27, and 28 of MARPOL Annex VI (DCS and CII). Biofuels that have been certified by an international certification scheme (referring to schemes approved for international aviation), meet its sustainability criteria, and provide a well-to-wake GHG emissions reduction of at least 65 percent compared to the well-to-wake emissions of fossil MGO can use a CO2 conversion factor equal to the well-to-wake GHG emissions factor.
The Malaysia Marine Department will inform the shipping community of the outcome of MEPC 80, and the list of related resolutions adopted during this session will be shared through the Malaysian Shipping Notices (MSN), which will be issued after receiving a clean text from the IMO Secretariat.
However, more steps must be taken for Malaysia to implement the significant revision of MEPC 80 from the cabinet level for a top-down approach, so that Malaysia has a clear policy, aim, incentive, infrastructure, and future expectations. Malaysia requires an established pool of experts in dealing with international instruments, make investments in alternative fuels such as biofuel, ammonia, and hydrogen, construct a comprehensive National Action Plan for sustainable shipping, and periodically review and revise the Malaysia Shipping Plan.
IMO was developed in recognition that the best way to improve safety at sea is by developing international standards supported by the member states. Currently, IMO has 175 member states and three associate members that represent almost all countries in the world.
According to Article 1(A) of the Convention, IMO is the enabler “to provide machinery for corporation among Governments in the field of governmental regulation and practices relating to technical matters of all kinds affecting shipping engaged in international trade; to encourage and facilitate the general adoption of the highest practicable standards in matters concerning maritime safety, efficiency of navigation, and prevention and control of marine pollution from ships engaged in international trade.”
MEPC, which consists of all member states, is responsible for considering all matters concerning pollution prevention and control by ships. MEPC covers the control and prevention of ship-source pollution covered by the MARPOL treaty, including oil, chemicals carried in bulk, sewage, garbage, and emissions from ships, including air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions.
Other matters covered include ballast water management, anti-fouling systems, ship recycling, pollution preparedness and response, and the identification of special areas and particularly sensitive sea areas.
Photo credit: Dr. Izyan Munirah Mohd Zaideen. Member states of IMO, meeting at MEPC 80, adopted the 2023 IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships.