The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), meeting for its 61st session in London, made further progress in developing measures to improve the energy efficiency of ships, in order to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping.
Technical and operational measures
Having considered means by which technical and operational measures could be introduced in the Organization’s regulatory regime, the Committee noted the intention of some States party to MARPOL Annex VI – Regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships, to request the Secretary-General to circulate proposed amendments to that Annex, to make mandatory, for new ships, the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP)), both of which have already been disseminated for voluntary use. The circulated draft amendments would then be considered by the Committee’s next session, in July 2011, with a view to adoption under MARPOL Annex VI. The Committee also noted, however, that some other States did not support the circulation of the proposed amendments.
Although decisions as to how to proceed with the next step of IMO’s climate change strategy were not reached by consensus, nevertheless the Committee made progress on all three elements of its work, namely technical, operational and market-based measures, and it is expected that further substantial progress will continue to be made at the July 2011 meeting.
The EEDI is a non-prescriptive, performance-based mechanism that leaves the choice of technologies to use in a specific ship design to the industry. As long as the required energy-efficiency level is attained, ship designers and builders would be free to use the most cost-efficient solutions for the ship to comply with the regulations.
The SEEMP establishes a mechanism for a shipping company and/or a ship to improve the energy efficiency of ship operations.
The Committee also held an extensive debate on how to progress the development of suitable market-based measures (MBMs) for international shipping, following the submission of a comprehensive report by an Expert Group, which had carried a feasibility study and impact assessment of several possible market-based measures submitted by governments and observer organizations.
The scope of the work of the Expert Group was to evaluate the various proposals on possible MBMs, with the aim of assessing the extent to which they could assist in reducing GHG emissions from international shipping, giving priority to the maritime sectors of developing countries, least developed countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
The MBM proposals under review ranged from a contribution or levy on all CO2 emissions from international shipping or only from those ships not meeting the EEDI requirement, via emission trading systems, to schemes based on a ship’s actual efficiency, both by design (EEDI) and operation (SEEMP).
The Committee agreed Terms of Reference for an intersessional meeting of the Working Group on GHG Emissions from Ships, to be held in March 2011, tasking the group with providing an opinion on the compelling need and purpose of MBMs as a possible mechanism to reduce GHG emissions from international shipping and further evaluating the proposed MBMs considered by the Expert Group, including the impact of the proposed MBMs on, among others, international trade, the maritime sector of developing countries, LDCs and SIDS, as well as the corresponding environmental benefits. A report from the intersessional group will be submitted to MEPC 62 in July 2011.
IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
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