Breakthrough at MEPC 62

Breakthrough in IMO – Legally binding agreement to reduce CO2 emissions from international shipping


Debate on the adoption of technical and operational measures

In July 2011, MEPC 62 continued its consideration of making the developed technical and operational measures mandatory by adding a new chapter 4 on energy efficiency to MARPOL Annex VI – Regulations on the prevention of air pollution from ships.  MEPC 62 was held from 11 to 15 July 2011 at IMO’s Headquarters in London.  Very good momentum had been generated in the lead up to the session, during which parties involved in informal talks had showed great willingness to work out a compromise that could be accepted by all and be adopted by consensus.
 
A compromise proposal by Singapore (MEPC 62/6/21) included a possible phased-in implementation where administrations with the need for more time could waive the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) requirement for ships flying their flag for up to four years.  A large number of delegations supported the proposal by Singapore and expressed interest in further consideration of how it could be incorporated in the draft regulatory text.  Noting that an informal group convened by the MEPC Chairman was holding consultations with a view to seeking consensus among Member States on the proposed energy efficiency regulations, the Committee agreed that the proposal by Singapore provided scope for a compromise agreement as it contained elements around which a consensus could be built.
 
Assisted by an informal group convened by the Chairman, delegations embarked on negotiations involving capacity building and technical assistance to developing countries.  Being well aware that capacity building and technical assistance to administrations without the needed human and financial resources are essential elements for any new regulations to be effectively implemented and enforced in the world fleet of merchant vessels, the Committee successfully reached a compromise solution.  The new chapter includes a regulation on Promotion of technical co-operation and technology transfer related to the improvement of energy efficiency of ships, which requires Administrations, in co-operation with IMO and other international bodies, to promote and provide, as appropriate, support directly or through IMO to States, especially developing States, that request technical assistance.  It also requires the Administration of a Party to co-operate actively with other Parties, subject to its national laws, regulations and policies, to promote the development and transfer of technology and exchange of information to States, which request technical assistance, particularly developing States, in respect of the implementation of measures to fulfil the new energy efficiency requirements.
 
On the challenging issue of application, a number of delegations opposed the possibility of port States to deny port entry for ships issued with an EEDI waiver as this would undermine the phased implementation, making the provision hollow.  Other delegations felt the suggested timeline was excessive and should be shortened to one or maximum two years.  Extensive informal negotiations were held until the Chairman was able to present to plenary a compromise text on a new chapter 4 on energy efficiency to be added to MARPOL Annex VI.  The successful negotiations leading to a compromise text clearly indicated the Parties’ willingness to find workable solutions and to respond to the urgent need for all industries to contribute to the combined effort to halt climate change.
 
In the informal negotiations led by the Chairman, development of a draft MEPC resolution on capacity building, technical assistance and transfer of technology also took place to complement the regulatory text in order to strengthen the technical assistance to developing countries.  The resolution was intended to be adopted together with the energy efficiency regulations as a package.  However, while good progress had been made during the informal negotiations it was not possible to finalize the draft resolution by consensus as there were several issues where divergence could not be overcome.  As a result, a number of delegations opposed the adoption of the energy efficiency regulations during MEPC 62.  The Chairman stated that he would further develop the draft MEPC resolution on capacity building, technical assistance and transfer of technology with a view to its final adoption at MEPC 63.
 
All delegations that intervened in the ensuing plenary debate expressed their admiration for the Chairman’s strenuous efforts to bring all Members together and produce a text on the basis of which consensus might be reached.  In this respect, some delegations considered that additional amendments and clarifications were required before adoption of the proposed text could be further considered, while other delegations were of the view that the text presented by the Chairman was the most delicate of compromises and should be considered as the final text for adoption.
 

Adoption of mandatory technical and operational measures

The Secretary-General congratulated the Chairman and delegations for their hard work and statesmanlike attitude in drafting the compromise text.  Recalling his opening remarks appealing to all Members to compromise, and noting that the proposed text had been carefully crafted on the basis of concessions made by all engaged in the consultations, he commended the text to the Committee as it represented a well-balanced outcome that was workable in today’s shipping reality and which also preserved the universality of IMO’s regulations and the unity of its membership.  In turn, the Chairman thanked the Committee for its trust in his leadership on the issue, and commended the text inviting the Committee to adopt it.
 
The majority of delegations that responded to the Chairman’s invitation supported adoption.  However, the delegation of Saudi Arabia requested that a vote be held on adoption of the aforementioned draft amendments and the delegation of Brazil requested that the vote be undertaken by a roll-call.  59 of the 64 Parties to MARPOL Annex VI were present and eligible to vote.  The following outcome of the roll call vote should be noted:

Yes: 49 Parties: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Bulgaria, Canada, Cook Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Vanuatu
No: 5 Parties: Brazil, Chile, China, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia
Abstain: 2 Parties: Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Not present in the room: 3 Parties: Iran (Islamic Republic of), Kenya, Syrian Arab Republic
The roll call vote resulted in the adoption of mandatory measures to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping by Parties to MARPOL Annex VI representing the first ever mandatory global GHG reduction regime for an international industry sector.
 
The yes-voting countries represent (roughly 80%) of the world’s merchant shipping tonnage flagged in developing or developed countries.  Moreover, the universality of the regulatory measures now introduced into MARPOL Annex VI is well illustrated by the yes-voting countries as they represent all regions of the world – both exporters and importers, as well as the largest flag States, most of the large ship building nations and many of the countries such as the Pacific Islands States, that are most likely to suffer first from the effects of climate change.  Furthermore, the yes-voting countries represent about 75% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from international shipping which, augurs well for the environmental effectiveness of the new IMO treaty obligations.
 
The amendments to MARPOL Annex VI Regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships, add a new chapter 4 to Annex VI on Regulations on energy efficiency for ships to make mandatory the EEDI for new ships, and the SEEMP for all ships (resolution MEPC.203(62)).  Other amendments add new definitions and requirements for survey and certification, including the format for the new International Energy Efficiency Certificate.  The new regulations apply to all merchant ships of 400 gross tonnage and above regardless of the national flag they fly or the nationality of the owner, and are expected to enter into force globally on 1 January 2013.  However, an Administration that considers that it on its industry needs more time to comply may waive the requirement for new ships from complying with the EEDI for up to four years.
 
The adoption by IMO of mandatory reduction measures for all ships from 2013 and onwards will lead to significant emission reductions and also a striking cost saving for the shipping industry.  By 2020, up to 200 million tonnes of annual CO2 reductions are estimated from the introduction of the EEDI for new ships and the SEEMP for all ships in operation, a figure that, by 2030, will increase to 420 million tonnes of CO2 annually.  In other words, the reductions will in 2020 be between 10 and 17%, and by 2030 between 19 and 26% compared with business as usual.  The reduction measures will also result in a significant saving in fuel costs to the shipping industry, although these savings require deeper investments in more efficient ships and more sophisticated technologies than the business as usual scenario.  The annual fuel cost saving estimates states a staggering figure of $20 to 80 billion by 2020, and even more astonishing $90 – 310 billion by 2030.
 
The amendments to MARPOL Annex VI making energy efficiency standards mandatory constitute the first international climate change treaty provisions to be formally adopted since the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and the first ever globally binding instrument introducing energy efficiency regulations for any international industry sector.
 
Commenting at the close of the session, on the outcome of MEPC,
IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos expressed satisfaction at the many and various significant achievements with which the session should be credited. “Although not by consensus – which of course would be the ideal outcome – the Committee has now adopted amendments to MARPOL Annex VI introducing mandatory technical and operational measures for the energy efficiency of ships.  Let us hope that the work to follow on these issues will enable all Members to join in, so that the service to the environment the measures aim at will be complete,” he said.
 
MEPC 62 agreed a work plan to continue the work on energy efficiency measures for ships, to include the development of EEDI frameworks for ship types and sizes, and propulsion systems, not covered by the current EEDI requirements and the development of EEDI and SEEMP-related guidelines.  An intersessional working group meeting on energy efficiency measures for ships is scheduled to take place in January 2012 and will report its progress to
MEPC 63 (February/March 2012).  The interssional working group is tasked with:
  1. further improving, with a view to finalization at MEPC 63, draft Guidelines on the method of calculation of the EEDI for new ships; draft Guidelines for the development of a SEEMP; draft Guidelines on Survey and Certification of the EEDI; and draft interim Guidelines for determining minimum propulsion power and speed to enable safe manoeuvring in adverse weather conditions;
  2. considering the development of EEDI frameworks for other ship types and propulsion systems not covered by the draft Guidelines on the method of calculation of the EEDI for new ships;
  3. dentifying the necessity of other guidelines or supporting documents for technical and operational measures; considering the EEDI reduction rates for larger tankers and bulk carriers; and
  4. considering the improvement of the guidelines on the Ship Energy Efficiency Operational Indicator (EEOI) (MEPC.1/Circ.684).

Comments on the Adoption of Regulations on Energy Efficiency for Ships by the UN Superiors and IMO Secretary-General

Following the session, the IMO’s Secretary-General wrote to his counterparts in the UN system stating:
“I am very pleased to inform you of the decision of Parties to MARPOL Annex VI ... to adopt mandatory requirements introducing energy efficiency standards, which are aimed at the reduction of GHG emissions from ships engaged on international voyages.  

The amendments were adopted by an overwhelming majority of the Parties concerned, representing regions from across the globe and 79%, by tonnage, of the world’s merchant fleet.  The fact the amendments do not differentiate between flag States augurs well for the environment effectiveness of the standards adopted and, indeed, it may be said that the regulatory regime now put in place by IMO, with an expected entry into force date of 1 January 2013, constitutes the first ever global mandatory GHG reduction regime for an international industry sector.

This was an historical landmark in IMO’s work, leaving the environment as the sole winner in intensive negotiations that lasted four and a half years.  It has come as a testimony to IMO’s ability to rise to the circumstances and deliver a substantial contribution to the world’s efforts to address climate change.  I hope it sets a precedent to follow. 

I will be very happy to present the outcome of MEPC 62 to the forthcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 17) in Durban, where I would expect the world community to reiterate its trust in IMO continuing its perennial efforts to protect and preserve the environment, both marine and atmospheric.”

 
In acknowledgement of the decision of the Parties to MARPOL Annex VI to adopt mandatory requirements introducing energy efficiency standards, which are aimed at the reduction of GHG emissions from ships engaged on international voyages, Mr. Ban Kin-moon, UN Secretary-General and Mrs. Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Director wrote to IMO’s Secretary-General:
Mr. Ban Kin-moon, UN Secretary-General:
“I would like to congratulate you on this significant outcome reached at IMO’s MEPC 62.  This underscores the fact that IMO is the best positioned to play a leadership role in addressing GHG emission from international shipping.  This is indeed very welcome progress.

I am confident that your presentation of the IMO outcome in this regard to the seventeenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban in December 2011 could make a positive contribution to the respective discussions within UNFCCC.
I commend you and your colleagues in the IMO Secretariat for achieving this important outcome.”

Mrs. Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Director:
“I would like to congratulate you on this outstanding result, which for the first time in history establishes a global mandatory GHG emission reduction regime for an entire economic sector.  The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has certainly proven its strong leadership and commitment in addressing GHG emissions from international shipping.  This success is a result of the untiring efforts of the IMO secretariat which, through its continuous work and high level of commitment, laid the foundation for this exceptional decision.
The adoption of mandatory efficiency standards for international shipping is a major step and a substantial contribution of the international shipping sector to global efforts in addressing climate change...
 
I would very much welcome IMO presenting the outcome of MEPC 62 and its contribution to global climate change actions to the Parties under the UNFCCC at the forthcoming COP 17 ... We encourage you to do so in the context of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, where Parties have invited the IMO secretariat to report in its relevant work on climate change...
Let me in this context reiterate the commitment of the UNFCCC secretariat to continuing to support and work collaboratively with IMO, its secretariat and Marine Environment Protection Committee, so as to ensure further progress on limiting and reducing GHG emissions from international shipping.
 
Thank you once again for your leadership and unfailing work in addressing this issue...”
 

Market-Based Measures and other matters

The adoption of mandatory technical and operational measures is a milestone in ensuring that the global shipping industry has the necessary mechanisms to reduce its GHG emissions.  Nevertheless, it has been recognized by the Committee at various sessions that these measures would not be sufficient to reduce the amount of GHG emissions from international shipping in view of the growth projection of world trade.  Therefore, MBMs have been considered by the Committee in line with Assembly resolution A.963(23) and its work plan.
Further work is needed on MBMs but the foundations have already been developed and will facilitate the finalization of a robust, comprehensive and efficient GHG regime, complementing IMO’s regime of 53 international treaties regulating all non-commercial aspects of international shipping.  Due to time constraints, MEPC 62 was unable to consider MBMs or reduction targets for international shipping as well as other GHG-related issues which will continue to be addressed when the Committee meets again in February/March 2012 (MEPC 63).
 

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