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IMO progresses on emissions and efficiency


The 69th meeting of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) has concluded with the approval of mandatory reporting of vessels’ fuel consumption.

The data collection system will be put forward for adoption at the 70th MEPC session in October and could enter into force in 2018. It will require ships of 5,000gt or greater to collect consumption data for each type of fuel used, as well as proxies for transport work – design deadweight for cargo-carrying vessels, with measurements for other vessel types still to be decided. Other information including ship identification and particulars, distance travelled and hours not at berth will also be collated.

The aggregated data will be reported to flag states after the end of each calendar year, and IMO will be required to produce an annual report summarising the data, with results anonymised so that individual ships cannot be recognised.

The data collection system is enshrined in draft amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which were approved by the MEPC last week.

The system will facilitate the first in a three-stage process involving data collection, then analysis, then decision making on further measures to enhance energy efficiency and address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. At the meeting last week it was decided that proposals to establish an emissions reduction target for international shipping, or develop a work plan to establish the target, would be taken up at the next MEPC session in October.

Approval of draft data collection requirements is seen by many as an important step towards greater action on GHG emissions. Peter Hinchcliffe, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping noted: “We believe that IMO member states have agreed an acceptable compromise between governments primarily interested in data on fuel consumption and CO2 and those that wish to collect additional information, for example on so called transport work.

Triggering MRV annulment?

“The priority now is to persuade the European Union to adjust its unilateral regulation on the reporting and verification of individual ship emissions [the MRV regulation] to make it compatible with what has now been agreed at IMO.”

That may remain a challenge given two significant differences between the IMO system and the European MRV: The use of design deadweight as a proxy for transport work and the absence of an independent verification process.

Julien Dufour, CEO of Verifavia – an independent auditor with deep experience of European regulations on emissions reporting in both the marine and aviation sectors – cited both factors as obstacles to the replacement of the MRV with a global regulation. Speaking to The Motorship shortly before the MEPC session, he said: “I seriously doubt whether the European Commission will accept that the current IMO proposal triggers the annulment of the MRV.”

Other parties were dismayed with the speed of progress on establishing a process to determine a GHG emissions reduction target for shipping. The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) – a coalition of companies from across the shipping supply chain – argued: “The lack of action increases the perception of shipping as an industry that is not willing to contribute to global reduction targets.  This threatens the shipping industry’s reputation, and increases the chance of reduction targets being mandated outside of the regulatory framework of the IMO.”

Exceeding EEDI

The SSI also noted that the decision to postpone discussion on further GHG measures until MEPC 70 came despite strong support for the establishment of a reduction target from several parties – including two of the three largest flag registries, the Marshall Islands and Liberia.

The IMO reiterated the status of shipping as the only global industry governed by legally binding energy efficiency measures, in the form of the Energy Efficient Design Index (EEDI), brought into force in 2013 as amendments to MARPOL Annex VI. Under the EEDI, all new ships built after 2025 will be 30% more energy efficient than those built in 2013.

The correspondence group charged with reviewing EEDI progress ahead of phase two (2020-2024) reported back at MEPC 69. Having studied 682 vessels built before the introduction of the EEDI, the group found that all containerships and general cargo ships included in the survey, as well as half of bulk carriers and 88% of tankers, already exceeded phase two requirements. [...]


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