Port and Shipping Tech Conference​ - High-level session on shipping emission regulations

Port and Shipping Tech Conference
Naples, Friday 27 June
High-level session on shipping emission regulations
Keynote speech by Koji Sekimizu 
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization

Ladies and gentlemen,

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) – the United Nations  specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of ships and the prevention of pollution from international shipping – has taken on a leadership role in supporting sustainable maritime development, by setting global safety and environmental standards for international shipping and promoting their uniform implementation across the world. 

The significance of this role may be appreciated in view of the fact that shipping activities continue to grow – despite the recent economic downturn. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 2013 Review of Maritime Transport estimates global seaborne trade to have increased by 4.3%, between 2011 and 2012, with the total reaching over 9 billion tons in 2012 for the first time ever. Compare this with just 2.6 billion tons of seaborne trade in 1970.

As the volume of trade and the number of ships have increased, so IMO’s work in the environmental arena has intensified. The Organization has adopted 21 environmental treaties. 
Of these, perhaps the most important is the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), adopted in 1973 with five annexes covering pollution by oil from ships but also by noxious liquid substances carried in bulk (such as chemicals), goods carried in packaged form, sewage and garbage. A sixth Annex, adopted in 1997, covers air pollution and emissions from ships, extending the remit of the MARPOL treaty to preventing pollution from ships into the atmosphere, as well as into the world’s oceans. 

This Annex, which entered into force in 2005, has two strands. One addresses air pollutants, including nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulphur oxide (SOx), while the other aims at limiting and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through technical and operational measures designed to improve the energy efficiency of ships. 

Let us look first at the latter of these, greenhouse gas emissions. IMO’s Second GHG Study, published in 2009, identified that CO2 emissions from international shipping accounted for approximately 2.7% of total human-induced CO2 emissions in 2007, and predicted that, if no regulatory measures were developed, CO2 emissions were projected to grow between 200% and 300% by 2050, despite significant market-driven efficiency improvements. 

Against this background, in 2011 IMO adopted technical and operational measures comprising an energy efficiency framework for ships, which entered into force on 1 January 2013 under MARPOL Annex VI and represents the first ever global and legally binding CO2 reduction regime for an international industry sector or transport mode.

Estimates suggest that successful implementation of this energy-efficiency framework by the year 2050 could reduce shipping’s GHG emissions by between 1.0 to 1.5 gigatonnes of CO2 per year, against the business-as-usual scenario.

The package of technical and operational requirements requires new ships to be constructed to a mandatory design index, the Energy Efficiency Design Index or EEDI, which sets a minimum energy-efficiency level for the work undertaken – i.e. CO2 emissions per tonne-mile – for different ship types and sizes. 

The EEDI requirement will increase the energy efficiency of new ships over time. Reduction factors are already set until 2025, by which time an improvement in energy efficiency of up to 30% over the average energy efficiency for ships built between 1999 and 2009 will be required.

The new regulations also make mandatory the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for all ships over 400 gross tonnage. The SEEMP is an operational measure that establishes a mechanism to improve the energy efficiency of a ship against business-as-usual, in a cost-effective manner and also provides an approach for monitoring ship and fleet efficiency performance over time, using, for example, the Energy Efficiency Operational Indicator (EEOI) as a monitoring and/or benchmarking tool. 

Studies by IMO indicate that uptake of SEEMP measures will have significant effect in the short to medium term, while EEDI measures should have a greater impact in the longer term, as fleet renewal takes place and new technologies are adopted. 

Some examples of technology innovations expected to be adopted through effective EEDI and SEEMP implementation are speed reduction, weather routeing, use of auxiliary power and a focus on aerodynamics. Optimization of maintenance and operational practices, such as regular propeller and hull cleaning, can also reduce power requirements. 

A variety of commercially viable emission-reduction solutions for sustainable shipping exist, with energy savings being far greater than the upfront capital costs – for example, propeller polishing, water flow optimization and hull cleaning. But speed reduction has the largest reduction potential and only a moderate cost.

Turning now to the second major strand of MARPOL Annex VI; air pollution from ships would have a cumulative effect that contributes to the overall air quality problems encountered in many areas and also affects human health and the natural environment, through acid rain, for example.

MARPOL Annex VI limits the main air pollutants contained in ships’ exhaust gas, including sulphur oxides (SOx) and nitrous oxides (NOx), and prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone depleting substances. MARPOL Annex VI also regulates shipboard incineration, and the emissions of volatile organic compounds from tankers.

In 2005, the MEPC agreed to revise MARPOL Annex VI to strengthen significantly the emission limits in light of technological improvements and implementation experience. After three years of detailed work, the revised MARPOL Annex VI and the associated NOx Technical Code were adopted in October 2008 and entered into force on 1 July 2010.

As a result, MARPOL Annex VI now incorporates a progressive, global reduction in emissions of SOx, NOx and particulate matter and a process for the designation of emission control areas, or ECAs, in which even more stringent emission reductions of those air pollutants are required. ECA compliance generally requires ships to use cleaner fuel oils or, as an equivalent alternative, emission abatement technologies, such as exhaust gas cleaning systems or so-called “scrubbers”, capable of meeting tighter restrictions than the overall applicable, global emission limits. 

Under the revised MARPOL Annex VI, the global sulphur cap has been reduced initially to 3.5% (from the previous 4.5%), effective from 1 January 2012; then progressively to 0.5%, effective from 1 January 2020, subject to a feasibility review to be completed no later than 2018. 

The limits applicable in ECAs for SOx and particulate matter were reduced to 1.0%, beginning on 1 July 2010 (from the original 1.5%); being further reduced to 0.1%, effective from 1 January 2015.
Progressive reductions in NOx emissions from marine diesel engines installed on ships are also included, with a “Tier II” emission limit for engines installed on a ship constructed on or after 1 January 2011; then a more stringent “Tier III” emission limit for engines on ships operating within NOx ECAs. According to an amendment adopted by the MEPC in April this year, Tier III requirements will apply to engines installed on a ship constructed on or after 1 January 2016 aboard ships operating in the two existing ECAs – North America and US Caribbean Sea. In addition, the Tier III requirements would apply to new marine diesel engines when operated in any future NOx emission control areas.

As IMO’s work on emissions has progressed, one thing has become abundantly clear. We cannot find all the answers from discussions restricted to the shipping industry itself. Policy discussions among a wide range of stakeholders and policy makers are required.

Take, for example, the sulphur emission requirements. The shipping industry cannot produce fuel. So the discussions on how to move forward must involve not only shipping, but also ship designers, the oil and refinery industries and port developers; and it is essential that Governments and policy makers establish clear policies so that industry partners can make proper and timely investment decisions. 

Governments need to be actively involved, and should consider introducing clear incentives for the development of energy efficiency technologies for shipping. Automobiles, aviation, power generation and households have had access to cleaner energy for some time. But ships have traditionally used heavy oil as fuel, out in the ocean, far from land. 

However, coastal States are increasingly concerned, quite rightly, about air pollution and its impact on the health of their citizens; hence the pressure for action on land, in the air and at sea. But if global society wants clean air, the shipping community should also be able to utilize cleaner energy and have ready access to cleaner fuels formulated to produce fewer harmful emissions. 

If the agreed targets are to be met, the oil and refinery industries will have to produce the necessary volume of low sulphur fuel – and for this, there will be a price. This will require a broad policy debate, embracing the environment, clean air, energy supply and transportation and I hope that this issue of the price of low sulphur fuels will be discussed at IMO in the near future.

Ladies and gentlemen, what I hope to have demonstrated today is that IMO’s emissions’ policy is comprehensive, complex, demanding but, ultimately, absolutely vital to sustainable development, both within shipping and in a broader context. Yes, there are challenges, and these will need to be addressed by Governments and by industries, with IMO ready to offer practical help and assistance where it is needed. We need to ensure that shipping moves towards a culture of energy efficiency that goes beyond mere compliance, but multi stakeholder action is required to realize the optimum gains that are achievable, in order to move towards a sustainable and more energy-efficient operation of maritime transport. 

Thank you.