Environmental issues take centre stage at IMO
Ballast water management, greenhouse gas emissions from ships and ship recycling are among a host of environmental issues that will take centre stage at IMO during the forthcoming 48th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC). The Committee will convene for a week-long session atIMO headquarters in London, from 7 to 11 October, under the chairmanship of Australia’s Mr Mike Julian.
The problem of harmful aquatic organisms in ballast water was first raised at IMO in 1988 and since then MEPC, together with MSC and technical sub-committees, has been dealing with the issue. In order to help developing countries understand the problem and monitor the situation, IMO is implementing the GEF/UNDP/IMO Global Ballast Water Management Programme (GloBallast) and has provided technical support and expertise.
The problem of invasive species is largely due to the expanded trade and traffic volume over the last few decades. The effects in the waters of Australia, Canada and the United States as well as the Black Sea have been devastating. Volumes of seaborne trade continue overall to increase and the problem may not yet have reached its peak.
The immediate challenge is to agree appropriate standards for ballast water within the limitations of the technology available now and in the near future, while maintaining the overall objective of eliminating the problem totally.
IMO had been invited, in a resolution adopted by the 1997 MARPOL Conference, to undertake a study of CO2 emissions from ships; furthermore, under the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, IMO was again especially requested to deal with emissions from ships. The IMO Study on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships was published in 2000 and MEPC was invited to consider the IMO strategy to control greenhouse gas emissions from ships, based on this and on submissions from delegations.
A correspondence group established by the last session of MEPC produced a sound basis for further discussions on various technical and operational issues, including whether IMO’s efforts should be concentrated on CO2 alone, whether mandatory emission standards are achievable and whether the greenhouse gas indexing approach is likely to be of value.
Note to Editors:
- the International Maritime Organization - is the United Nations specialized
agency with responsibility for the safety of shipping and the prevention of
marine pollution by ships.