In pursuing its mission – safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans – IMO works vigorously and consistently towards developing a comprehensive regulatory regime aimed at protecting the marine environment.
IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) has for some time now been considering, as an integral part of its agenda, actions to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emission from ships engaged in international trade. It met for its 73rd session (MEPC 73) from 22 to 26 October 2018, at IMO Headquarters in London. The session was attended by delegations from Members and Associate Members; representatives from United Nations Programmes, specialized agencies and other entities; observers from intergovernmental organizations with agreements of cooperation; and observers from non-governmental organizations in consultative status.
IMO Assembly, the Organization's supreme body, adopted during its 30th session in December 2017 a strategic direction entitled "Respond to Climate Change".
Initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships
On 13 April 2018, MEPC 72 adopted resolution MEPC.304(72) on Initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships (the Initial Strategy) as reported to SBSTA 48 in May 2018.
The "Vision" set out in the text of this important Initial Strategy confirms IMO's commitment to reducing GHG emissions from international shipping and, as a matter of urgency, to phasing them out as soon as possible in this century.
The Initial Strategy envisages for the first time a reduction in total GHG emissions from international shipping which, it says, should peak as soon as possible and to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, while, at the same time, pursuing efforts towards phasing them out as called for in the Vision as a point on a pathway of CO2 emissions reduction consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goals.
The adoption of the Initial IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG emissions from ships is a historic milestone in the Organization's continuous contribution to global efforts to limit and reduce GHG emissions. This strategy should send a strong signal to the shipping sector as a whole to stimulate investment in the development of low- and zero-carbon fuels and innovative energy-efficient technologies.
Continuing the momentum of work on this important issue, the Working Group on Reduction of GHG emissions from ships, at its fourth intersessional meeting (15 to 19 October 2018), developed a Programme of follow-up actions of the Initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships up to 2023 approved by MEPC 73.
MEPC 73 also agreed to hold an Intersessional meeting before MEPC 74 to consider concrete proposals for candidate measures and the procedure for assessing impacts on States.
MEPC 73 invited Member States to submit concrete proposals on candidate short-term measures and the procedure for assessing the impacts on States to MEPC 74 in May 2019, for consideration and finalization, respectively. MEPC 73 also invited concrete proposals on candidate mid-/long-term measures to be submitted to MEPC 74 and MEPC 75, for consideration.
IMO, celebrating in 2018 its 70th anniversary as the global regulator of international shipping, is entrusted with the matters on reduction of GHG emissions from ships; it will continue its endeavours to reduce environmental impacts from international maritime transport, a vital industry to world trade and sustainable development, and keep relevant bodies of the UNFCCC informed of its progress.
It is against this backdrop that IMO will participate in the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 24/CMP 14) in Katowice, Poland, starting on 2 December 2018. An update of IMO's work to address GHG emissions from bunker fuels used for international shipping will be provided to the forty-ninth session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 49) under agenda item 10 – Methodological issues under the Convention: emissions from fuel used for international aviation and maritime transport
IMO will provide information on its role as the international shipping regulator through an official submission, a statement note to SBSTA 49, and by participating in side events, including a UN systems event on Wednesday, 5 December at 18:30 (Room 1) for SDG 9: Innovative climate technologies and sustainable maritime transport for a climate resilient industry.
IMO's objectives for COP 24/CMP 14
IMO's main objectives for the Katowice Conference (COP 24/CMP 14) are:
- in all communications seek to make clear that international shipping is indispensable to the world and is a vital industry to support and sustain today's global society; and
- in all communications seek to make clear that, as its track record to date so clearly demonstrates, IMO is the appropriate international body to continue work to address greenhouse gas emissions from ships engaged in international trade.