Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), 77th session (opening remarks)


(22 to 26 November 2021)

Excellencies, distinguished delegates and observers,

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to this virtual part of the remote seventy-seventh regular session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee. I particularly welcome those delegates who are participating in the meeting of the Committee for the first time.

You will have another busy session of the Committee, with many documents to be considered at this session, as well as those deferred from the previous two sessions. In spite of the ongoing challenges associated with the pandemic, I am sure that we can overcome these and continue to make progress, in the usual IMO spirit of cooperation.

One of the main topics for discussion during this virtual meeting will be the crucial work of the Organization on the reduction of GHG emissions from international shipping.

COP 26 is still very fresh in our minds, emphasizing that we are no longer considering climate change as it will impact future generations, but with the very real and present threat to our generations.

The Glasgow Climate Pact clearly underscores the need for accelerated action in this critical decade. The Pact also recognizes the need to take into consideration the concerns of Parties with economies most affected by the impacts of response measures, particularly developing country Parties.

Additionally, the Pact recognizes the role of multilateralism in addressing climate change and promoting regional and international cooperation in order to strengthen climate action.

We must bear this in mind as we continue our discussions this week on the various GHG related workstreams.

The adoption of IMO's Initial GHG strategy over three years ago was a landmark decision for the time. However more recently, the IPCC and other relevant reports have further underscored the need for greater urgency in combatting climate change by all sectors and all nations to protect the future of our planet.

Your Committee will begin discussions for strengthening the Initial GHG Strategy to build on the achievements we have collectively made thus far. Whilst progress has been made on many of the measures set out in the Initial Strategy, I am sure that we can all agree that further action is needed. Your discussions this week will chart the way forward for the decarbonization of international shipping.

It is therefore of utmost importance that IMO continues to deliver concrete progress in transitioning international shipping from fossil fuels to low and zero-carbon alternatives. It is our duty to join worldwide commitments of increase ambition towards tackling climate change. I appreciate the commitment and the efforts of all member states and the industry for the outstanding work and achievements we have made so far. Now we must be brave and let our industry lead by example and provide tangible progress in our efforts to decarbonize international shipping.

The comprehensive set of mandatory measures to improve the energy efficiency of the world fleet adopted at the last session will enter into force next year. These amendments to MARPOL Annex VI also provide building blocks for the further discussions on mid- and long-term GHG reduction measures.

At this session you will be invited to consider the outcome of the ninth and tenth meeting of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (ISWG). The Group made good progress with the development of lifecycle GHG intensity guidelines for all types of marine alternative fuels, an essential step in promoting their uptake and key to regulating the carbon and other GHG content of such fuels.

The Intersessional Working Group also had extensive dialogue on the concrete proposals for mid-term measures submitted by Member States and international organizations, as well as how to undertake a lessons-learned exercise of the Comprehensive Impact Assessment of the short-term measure. Your constructive discussions on these topics will enhance the Committee's evidence-based decision making when further considering proposals for mid-term GHG reduction measures.

With this in mind I would like to appreciate the kind contributions made by Member states to the GHG Trust Fund. In particular my sincere appreciation to Singapore for the recent donation of $100,000 USD to the Fund. I would also appreciate donations by Malaysia, £25,000, Netherlands €10,000, and Germany €80,000 since the last Session of your Committee. I would continue to urge Member states to consider making further donations to fund this critical work.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation to all Member States, IGOs and NGOs, in particular the coordinators of the Correspondence Group on Carbon Intensity and, especially, the Chair of the Working Group on reduction of GHG emissions from ships, Mr. Oftedal of Norway, for his extraordinary effort and dedication in ensuring the successful outcome of both the ninth and tenth Intersessional Working Groups.

Whilst climate change matters will certainly be at the centre of your discussions this week, there are other important topics that will require your attention , including:

  1. finalization of the draft Strategy to Address Marine Plastic Litter from Ships;
  2. taking stock of the experience-building phase associated with the BWM Convention; and
  3. matters related to air pollution and energy efficiency.

Distinguished delegates,

The world is watching us. The way forward on many of the topics to be considered at this session is complex, but by working together with determination, I have every confidence that we will ensure that shipping will decarbonize and make a key contribution in the fight against climate change and cleaner oceans. Collaborative and considerate actions are key to making sure no one is left behind.

I am confident that your able Chair, Mr. Hideaki Saito of Japan, supported by the Vice-Chair, Mr. Harry Conway of Liberia, and assisted by the Secretariat, will steer the Committee's discussions towards a successful conclusion during the days ahead.

With this, I wish you every success in your deliberations.

Thank you.