The Marshall Islands Registry deputy commissioner Thomas Blenk said meeting IMO’s 2050 goals will require “a mix of technical, operational, and innovative solutions” applicable to ships.
With MEPC 75 set to introduce a new Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) to ships regardless of their year of build, the industry was urged to continue research and devlopment (R&D) efforts on alternative fuels, to encourage port developments and to develop lifecycle greenhouse gas and carbon intensity guidelines for different fuels.
Mr Blenk said every effort to reduce emissions, from fleet management to hull structures and speed optimisation, can add gains to the overall emissions reduction required, but fuels bring the greatest chance of reducing emissions. The registry has been part of a recent joint development project with Hyundai Heavy Industries Group to create a solvent-free coating for water-ballast tanks with the aim of reducing volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
The project design has now received an AiP and Mr Blenk said “You can see that environmentally friendly technology-driven methods are happening now. The shipyards are gearing up and are ready to introduce new technology.”
UKP&I Club risk assessor Ansuman Ghosh provided a regulatory overview. Decarbonisation regulations are still vague. “Without clear details that can be applicable retroactively, even existing ships can’t comply. Owners face big difficulties and they now have to do a huge amount of planning to understand how existing ships will work over the next decade” he said.
Mr Ghosh believes owners will begin planning their EEXI calculations. Many vessels do not possess records, posing further problems for owners. Uncertainty over compliance also affects future sales and purchases over the next decade. The EU has mooted an emissions trading scheme for shipping but faces opposition from industry groups and other non-EU countries. Further, there are varying expectations between IMO and EU emissions reduction targets as they have different baseline levels.
29% of webinar attendees felt that an uptake in LNG will help meet emissions reduction targets, yet there remain few regulations over methane slip and VOCs. This is especially significant as a sizeable chunk of responses (21%) felt shipping contributes between 3-6% of global CO2 emissions.
New advances in automation and engines also bring about issues. “There are reports where these modern vessels are stuck at sea for 48 hours because the vessels have not been able to switch back after a blackout, because there is so much automation on these vessels” said Mr Ghosh. To mitigate such risks, UKP&I recommends scaling up crew training to match the new fuel systems and engine types.
55% of webinar attendees felt that IMO regulation alone will not shape future decarbonisation rules and as AP Møller Mærsk senior regulatory affairs manager Jesper Fanø highlighted, the source of regulatory power is not limited.
Mr Fanø said the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) confers port states with considerable jurisdiction. While flag states bear primary responsibility for enforcing rules, part 12 of UNCLOS also provides for scenarios where port states can enforce legislations. Mr Fanø said Article 218 of the agreement gives port states the right to investigate and instigate proceedings in cases of discharges, even outside port waters.
UNCLOS does not define ‘discharge’ but the Vienna convention on the Law of Treaties provides that in these cases, the general meaning of the word will suffice. IMO’s MARPOL convention also defines ‘discharge’ to include ‘emitting’. Mr Fanø concluded that there exists a legal basis for bringing air emissions under the ambit of port state control to police any potential violations and impose fines.
He added most port state control regimes are adept at registering violations in different databases so once found non-compliant, a vessel will be targeted more often. Mr Fanø also called for greater fines for non-compliance.
“You need to remove the incentive for non-compliance by ensuring fines at a minimum remove savings, and impose a punitive element. And that punitive element should rise and rise if the shipowner is caught repeatedly, to end wilful non-compliance,” he said.
Sign up for Riviera’s weekly series of technical and operational webinars and virtual conferences in 2021: