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


16 November 2020

Excellencies, distinguished delegates and observers,

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to this virtual portion of the remote seventy-fifth regular session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee.

In spite of the current difficult situation under the pandemic, I am sure that we can overcome the challenges and continue to make progress, if we work together with the usual IMO spirit of cooperation.

As you are aware, the Chair is proposing to the Committee a streamlined agenda for the meeting, with the consideration of a number of agenda items and documents postponed to MEPC 76 next year. I am also aware that you have made progress during the correspondence period before the virtual meeting.

The main topics for discussion during this virtual meeting will be the crucial work on the reduction of GHG emissions from shipping, taking into account the outcomes of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships. That is, the draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI on short-term measures, together with the draft terms of reference for a comprehensive assessment of possible impacts on States.

It is of utmost importance that IMO continues to deliver on the implementation of the Initial GHG Strategy by means of concrete measures, which will ensure achieving the levels of ambition as set out in the Strategy, providing a globally harmonized regulatory framework.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation to all Member States , IGO and NGOs for the extraordinary effort and dedication for the successful outcome of the Intersessional Working Group .

In this context, your future consideration of GHG reduction measures will be facilitated by the Fourth IMO GHG Study. The Study provides many relevant findings on the maritime industry's current performance and future projections in terms of GHG reduction, which should be approved at this session.

Mindful of the need for further action to promote and facilitate more R&D in the area of clean fuels and technology. I am looking forward to the consideration of the proposal submitted by a number of industry organizations on the establishment of the International Maritime Research and Development Board and the associated Fund.     

We have been focusing on development of short-term measures. But now, I think we have to be more proactive to foster the development of future alternative fuels and embark on discussing potential mid-and long-term measures as soon as possible.

In this regard, IMO has to ensure that no country is left behind in the transition to decarbonization of international shipping. Therefore, IMO will further strengthen various capacity building activities on GHG reduction from shipping bearing in mind the impacts on developing countries, in particular the SIDS and LDCs.

Your agenda for this meeting also includes the adoption of draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI related to procedures for sampling and verification of the sulphur content of fuels, as well as enhancement of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI).

The draft amendments to the BWM Convention include requirements of commissioning testing of ballast water management systems.  Both draft amendments were approved at MEPC 74, for adoption at this session.

Furthermore, to ensure that shipping continues to provide the sustainable services that the global community relies on, you will be invited to approve a number of guidance documents related to the protection of the marine environment;

and the terms of reference of intersessional meetings and correspondence groups to progress important issues intersessionally.

Distinguished delegates,

Despite the challenges of conducting a virtual meeting, I am confident that, under the able leadership of your Chair, Mr. Hideaki Saito of Japan, supported by the Vice-Chair, Mr. Harry Conway of Liberia, and assisted by the Secretariat,

you will come together to reach the necessary agreements in your discussions, and thereby set the stage for the progress that is crucial to IMO's work in the months ahead of us.

Thank you.