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MEPC’s countdown to zero

With five months still to go, June’s 78th session of the International Maritime Organisation’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee is shaping up to be a seminal summit.

CMA CGM’s announcement at the One Ocean Summit organised by the president of France Emmanuel Macron that the line will no longer transport any plastic waste aboard its ships from June 1 aptly sets the scene.

Also present at the One Ocean Summit was AP Moller–Maersk CEO Soren Skou. He too has his eyes on the June MEPC meeting, underlining the urgent need for the IMO to set a valid legal framework.

We need France and the other EU Member States to lead the efforts not only at the regional level but also at the IMO to ensure we decarbonise shipping in time. We need this strong signal in the form of a basket of measures including a greenhouse gas price and an end date to the production of fossil-fuelled ships,” he said. “2022 must be remembered as the year regulators took action to adopt a solid GHG framework.”

The World Shipping Council (WSC), a voice for the liner shipping industry, has put forward six pathways to aid the MEPC in its considerations. While acknowledging that transitioning global shipping from a carbon dependent industry into one that operates without GHG emissions is a “massive task”, operators are already making investments and need clear global regulations to shape the future.

Six pathways
The six pathways start with the setting of a global price on carbon combined with dependable and broad-based “buy down” programmes that effectively level the playing field among newer low and zero GHG ships and the tens of thousands of ships that will still be burning conventional fuels. “This will play a large role in making it possible for companies to put zero GHG ships on the water and to operate them competitively,” said WSC.

Second is establishing transparent well-to-wake life cycle analysis of fuels, breaking out well-to-tank emissions and tank-to-wake emissions. This should be combined with regulatory mechanisms to incentivise first-movers for use of alternative fuels that offer significant GHG reductions even if they are not available from fully renewable sources from the start.

Third is the integrated development of global production and supply of zero GHG fuels through partnerships between IMO member States and energy providers, as well as regulatory provisions that allow for flexibility in the initial stages of the energy transition, given that zero GHG fuels will not be available at the same time around the globe.

Fourth is a Green Corridors Programme to accelerate an equitable fuel and technology transition, introducing zero GHG ships and fuels across trade lanes where the necessary shoreside energy infrastructure is first available. “This will speed development of best practices and encourage IMO member States and interested parties to focus on government-to-government initiatives and co-ordinated public-private investments to build the necessary production facilities and supply infrastructure,” said WSC.

Fifth is setting new build standards that support the energy transition, such as requiring ships built after a certain date to be able to operate on zero GHG fuels or not allowing the construction of vessels that can only operate on fossil fuels after a certain date.

The final pathway is supporting applied research and development for shipboard and shoreside systems that allow the safe use of zero GHG fuels. This is necessary to put zero emission ships on the water.

The organisation has submitted the six-pathway proposal to the IMO MEPC session, advising that each element should be part of an expanded IMO GHG Strategy.

Better together
John Butler, president and CEO of WSC, said that while shipping operators are willing to decarbonise, they cannot do it alone. “If we are to decarbonise shipping in line with the Paris agreement, the governments of the IMO must work together. For the sake of future generations and the future of shipping, our focus in the coming years must be to develop and implement innovative, concrete and equitable global regulatory frameworks.

“These are complicated matters and we do not pretend to have all the answers. What we do know is that we must develop these critical pathways together to address the climate challenge and transition the fleet to zero GHG ships.”

“Liner shipping understands the shared responsibility for GHG reductions in the maritime sector, and we don’t underestimate the challenge. We are committed to decarbonising shipping and have multiple ideas and projects in the pipeline. But to be able make these investments, to take the necessary risks, we – and all other maritime actors – need a regulatory framework that addresses the key strategic issues.”

Given how much hinges on the meeting’s success, the June MEPC will be keenly watched by shipping and non-shipping stakeholders alike.
Source: Baltic Exchange

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