Did MEPC 77 deliver for decarbonisation?
The shipping industry waited with bated breath for the IMO to consider a revision of its strategy on GHG emissions at MEPC 77 in November 2021. The meeting agenda included a number of important and substantive items, with discussions covering:
- Reduction of GHG emissions from shipping
- Air pollution prevention and energy efficiency
- Ballast water management and anti-fouling systems
- Marine plastic litter from ships
- Exhaust gas cleaning systems
- Black carbon in the Arctic
In the end, the 174 Member States struggled to allocate adequate time and resources to each topic. With reference to decarbonisation, several significant proposals were referred to session number 11 and 12 of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (ISWG-GHG), scheduled for Spring 2022, and to MEPC 78, currently tentatively scheduled for June 2022.
But some key decisions were taken that are relevant to the decarbonisation of shipping. The first related to a revision of the Initial IMO GHG Strategy. A draft resolution for Zero Emission Shipping by 2050 was put forward at MEPC 77. The Committee was unable to reach a consensus on the wording of the resolution, but agreed to initiate the revision of the IMO Initial GHG Strategy including its targets, impact assessments and a review of fuel availabilities.
Concrete proposals for the reduction of GHG emissions are to be submitted in advance of MEPC 78, with the finalisation and adoption of the revised strategy set to take place at MEPC 80 (Spring 2023).
The shipping industry waited with bated breath for the IMO to consider a revision of its strategy on GHG emissions at MEPC 77 in November 2021
Second concerned the status of International Maritime Research Fund (IMRF)/International Maritime Research and Development Board (IMRB). The proposal for the creation of a $5 billion Research & Development (R&D) fund – the IMO Maritime Research Fund (IMRF), to be managed by the International Maritime Research and Development Board (IMRB) – to accelerate R&D for zero emission technologies is now being promoted by major Member States and by leading industry associations. However, a number of countries expressed concerns at MEPC 77 over the governance and administration of the prospective IMRF and IMRB and further consideration has been referred to ISWG-GHG in Spring 2022.
Third was a ‘basket of measures’ for mid-term reductions of GHG emissions. In June 2021, MEPC 76 approved a ‘Work Plan’ to progress the development of mid and long-term GHG reduction measures and a programme of follow-up actions. Phase I of the Work Plan, set to conclude next Spring during ISWG-GHG 11 and ISWG-GHG 12, concerns the collation and initial consideration of mid-term GHG reduction measures. These are often referred as a ‘basket of measures’ and include a combination of market-based, technical and operational measures.
MEPC 77 agreed to establish the following with reference to Phase I:
An ad-hoc expert workshop on impact assessments to be held in March 2022, to consider concrete proposals for improving the impact assessment procedure and provide recommendations as part of the lessons-learned exercise.
A correspondence group on carbon intensity reduction, to finalise and update guidelines relating in particular to the short-term measures. These will include the technical Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and the operational Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII), both due to come into force on January 1, 2023.
A number of countries expressed concerns at MEPC 77 over the governance and administration of the prospective IMRF and IMRB and further consideration has been referred to ISWG-GHG in Spring 2022
The fourth concerned a black carbon in the Arctic resolution. MEPC 77 adopted a resolution aimed at protecting the Arctic from black carbon emissions from shipping and urging Member States and ship operators to use distillate or other cleaner alternative fuels, or methods of propulsion voluntarily when operating in or near the Arctic.
Even though MEPC 77 did not go as far as adopting the proposed Resolution on Zero Emission Shipping by 2050 nor approving the establishment of the IMRF/IMRB, a number of GHG emissions reduction measures were approved by the Committee, including an agreement to revise the IMO GHG Initial Strategy and to consider further, in Spring 2022, the IMRF/IMRB proposals and the Phase I mid-term measures.
Source: Baltic Exchange