IMO member states at last week’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) were mostly unmoved by a proposal to introduce speed limits to cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).
Proposals from France and Greece – backed by a letter signed by more than 100 shipowners – had suggested an annual speed limit as a short-term measure under IMO’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction strategy. ICS reported that delegates from countries including China, India, the US and many South American nations expressed concern that the measures would reduce the efficiency of maritime transport and discourage the take-up of new CO2 reduction technologies.
ICS secretary general Guy Platten suggested that speed optimisation, rather than speed limits, could be “low-hanging fruit” as IMO considers further measures. He noted wide support for a plan – submitted by ICS and other organisations - to have Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plans audited externally to show they had done everything possible to improve fuel efficiency in pursuit of IMO’s 2030 GHG target.
A proposal from Japan to help existing ships deliver energy efficiency targets by introducing an index similar the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) – which only applies to newbuilds – was also welcomed, said Mr Platten. But he noted that while short-term measures are important, acting to deliver the longer-term emissions reductions targeted for 2050 – a reduction of at least -50% compared to 2008 levels – was even more so.
“This can only realistically be achieved with the introduction of commercially viable zero- or near zero-CO2 propulsion systems, which means that accelerated research and development programmes have to be at the centre of the IMO strategy,” he said.
Despite pressure from environmental organisations and several member state delegations, MEPC74 did not make decisions on short-term GHG measures last week. Efforts on greenhouse gas emissions were focused on setting the framework conditions for the fourth IMO GHG study and agreeing to assess the impact of measures on less developed countries.
The meeting did agree, subject to approval at IMO’s general assembly, to bring forward the start of the third phase of EEDI from 2025 to 2022 for several ship types, including gas carriers, general cargo ships and LNG carriers. A correspondence group was established to examine options for a fourth phase of the regulation.
A voluntary multi-donor trust fund to provide financial support for technical cooperation and capacity-building activities to support IMO’s GHG reduction strategy was also approved. As reported, Norway and IMO are to collaborate on the ‘GreenVoyage 2050’ project aimed at building capacity, expertise and momentum in the bid to reduce emissions.
The IMO is due to finalise its GHG strategy by 2023 but is exploring short-term measures to be implemented before that date.
Mr Platten said: “We are keen to see further progress on developing more short term measures to help the existing fleet reduce its emissions, and are optimistic that IMO member states can agree some additional regulations, during 2020, combining prescriptive and goal based approaches that will deliver further GHG reductions before 2023.”