Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) 75, 16-20 November (virtual session

IMO Environment Committee approves amendments to cut ship GHG emissions 

The MEPC approved draft new mandatory regulations to cut the carbon intensity of existing ships.  

 This builds on current mandatory energy efficiency requirements to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping.  The MEPC also agreed the terms of reference for assessing the possible impacts of the new requirements on States, paying particular attention to the needs of developing countries, in particular small island developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs).   

 The draft amendments to the MARPOL convention would require ships to combine a technical and an operational approach to reduce their carbon intensity. This is in line with the ambition of the Initial IMO GHG Strategy, which aims to reduce carbon intensity of international shipping by 40% by 2030, compared to 2008. The amendments were developed by the seventh session of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (ISWG-GHG 7), held as a remote meeting 19-23 October 2020.    

 The draft amendments will now be put forward for formal adoption, together with the findings of the impact assessment, at the MEPC 76 session, to be held in June 2021.   

Resolution on national action plans adopted  

 The MEPC adopted a resolution on national action plans. The resolution urges Member States to develop and update a voluntary National Action Plan (NAP) with a view to contributing to reducing GHG emissions from international shipping.  

 The IMO website includes submitted national action plans and strategies:  National Action Plans and Strategies  

Fourth IMO GHG Study approved 

The Committee approved the Fourth IMO GHG Study 2020. The study contains an overview of GHG emissions from shipping 2012-2018, developments in carbon intensity and emission projections towards 2050. The study will be published by IMO.  

Proposal for an International Maritime Research Board discussed  

The MEPC discussed an industry-led proposal for the establishment of a non-governmental International Maritime Research and Development Board (IMRB) and related fund.  

 Many delegations also recognized the ongoing work under IMO’s  GHG emission reduction projects and highlighted the need to keep the needs of developing States, in particular SIDS and LDCs, at the forefront of future discussions. 

 Following discussion, the Committee acknowledged the proposal and noted diverging views and concerns on the proposed mechanism, with regards to various administrative, legal and governance aspects. The Committee noted that the proposal would require more detailed consideration, including of the potential impacts on States, before taking any decision. The Committee Invited interested Member States and international organizations to submit further commenting documents and proposals to the next MEPC session.  

Amendments to MARPOL Annex VI to further strengthen the EEDI adopted 

The MEPC adopted amendments to MARPOL Annex VI to significantly strengthen the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) "phase 3" requirements, with expected entry into force date of 1 April 2022. 

 The amendments bring forward the entry into effect date of phase 3 to 2022, from 2025, for several ship types, including gas carriers, general cargo ships and LNG carriers. This means that new ships built from that date must be significantly more energy efficient than the baseline.  

  • For container ships, the EEDI reduction rate is enhanced, significantly for larger ship sizes, as follows: 

  • For a containership of 200,000 DWT and above, the EEDI reduction rate is set at 50% from 2022 

  • For a containership of 120,000 DWT and above but less than 200,000 DWT, 45% from 2022 

  • For a containership of 80,000 DWT and above but less than 120,000 DWT, 40% from 2022 

  • For a containership of 40,000 DWT and above but less than 80,000 DWT, 35% from 2022 

  • For a containership of 15,000 DWT and above but less than 40,000 DWT, 30% from 2022 

Amendments to MARPOL Annex VI on sulphur content definition and sampling adopted 

The following amendments were adopted, with expected entry into force date of 1 April 2022. 
  • Amendments to Regulation 2 Definitions, to include new definitions for “Sulphur content of fuel oil” - meaning the concentration of sulphur in any fuel oil, measured in % m/m as tested in accordance with standard acceptable to the Organization; “Low-flashpoint fuel”, to mean gaseous or liquid fuel having a flashpoint lower than otherwise permitted under paragraph 2.1.1 of SOLAS regulation II-2/4; “MARPOL delivered sample”, to mean the sample of fuel oil delivered in accordance with regulation 18.8.1 of MARPOL Annex VI; “In-use sample”, to mean the sample of fuel oil in use on a ship; and “On board sample”, to mean the sample of fuel oil intended to be used or carried for use on board that ship. 
  • Fuel oil sampling and testing - amendments to Regulation 14 Sulphur oxides (SOX) and particulate matter, to add new paragraphs related to in-use and onboard fuel oil sampling and testing, to add new paragraphs to require one or more sampling points to be fitted or designated for the purpose of taking representative samples of the fuel oil being used or carried for use on board the ship. The representative samples of the fuel oil being used on board are to be taken in order to verify the fuel oil complies with the regulation.  
  • Appendix I amendments to the International Air Pollution Prevention (IAPP) certificate - Consequential amendments to update the IAPP certificate to add a reference to sampling points and also to note where there is an exemption to the provision for low-flashpoint fuel. 
  • Appendix VI on the Fuel verification procedure for MARPOL Annex VI fuel oil samples consequential amendments to verification procedures, to cover verification of the representative samples of in-use fuel oil and on board fuel oil.  

Amendments to BWM Convention adopted 

The MEPC adopted amendments to the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (BWM Convention)concerning commissioning testing of ballast water management systems and the form of the International Ballast Water Management Certificate. The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 June 2022. 

 The Committee also approved revised Guidance for the commissioning testing of ballast water management systems (BWM.2/Circ.70/Rev.1); and revised Guidance on ballast water sampling and analysis for trial use in accordance with the BWM Convention and Guidelines (G2) (BWM.2/Circ.42/Rev.2). 

Draft amendments to prohibit the use, and carriage for use, as fuel of  HFO by ships in Arctic waters approved 

The MEPC approved draft amendments to MARPOL Annex I (addition of a new regulation 43A) to introduce a prohibition on the use and carriage for use as fuel of heavy fuel oil (HFO) by ships in Arctic waters on and after 1 July 2024. 

The draft amendments will now be circulated for consideration with a view to adoption at MEPC 76 (in 2021). 

The prohibition would cover the use and carriage for use as fuel of oils having a density at 15°C higher than 900 kg/m3 or a kinematic viscosity at 50°C higher than 180 mm2/s. Ships engaged in securing the safety of ships, or in search and rescue operations, and ships dedicated to oil spill preparedness and response would be exempted.  

Ships which meet certain construction standards with regard to oil fuel tank protection (ships with oil fuel tanks located inside the double hullwould need to comply on and after 1 July 2029. 

A Party to MARPOL with a coastline bordering Arctic waters may temporarily waive the requirements for ships flying its flag while operating in waters subject to that Party's sovereignty or jurisdiction, up to 1 July 2029. After that date, exemptions and waivers would no longer be applicable. 

Currently, a MARPOL regulation prohibits the use or carriage of heavy grade oils on ships in the Antarctic; and under the Polar Code, ships are encouraged not to use or carry such oil in the Arctic.  

The mandatory regulation in MARPOL will enhance protection of the environment in Arctic waters.   

Draft amendments to AFS Convention approved 

The MEPC approved draft amendments to the IMO Convention for the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships (AFS Convention), to include controls on the biocide cybutryne. They will now be circulated with a view to adoption at MEPC 76. 

The ruling to prohibit anti-fouling systems containing cybutryne (also known under its industry name Irgarol-1051) would apply to ships from 1 January 2023 or, for ships already bearing such an anti-fouling systemat the next scheduled renewal of the anti-fouling system after 1 January 2023, but no later than 60 months following the last application to the ship of such an anti-fouling system.  

Anti-fouling systems are used on ships to prevent the build-up of organisms, a process known as biofouling.  

Studies have shown that cybutryne has the potential to cause adverse effects on non-target organisms. 

The AFS Convention already prohibits the use of biocides using organotin compounds.