The next meeting of the Marine Environment Protection Committee, MEPC 74, will be the last before the implantation of IMO’s 2020 global sulphur cap, which should make for an interesting agenda
The last meeting of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 73) was held in London on 22-26 October 2018. There were over 10 items on the agenda: foremost, it was agreed that the IMO Greenhouse Gas (GHG) study should commence in 2019. The aim of this latest study is to gather further data on future carbon emissions from shipping. A data collection system will be put in place from 1 January 2019 to measure fuel oil consumption. The conclusion of the study is scheduled to be presented at MEPC 76.
MEPC 73 also considered the next phases of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI). This centred around the implementation date of EEDI phase 3 for different ship types. EEDI phase 3 requires vessels to meet a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) grams per tonne mile, as compared to a baseline average for ships built between 2000 and 2010.
The committee agreed to retain the provisional phase 3 start date of 1 January 2025 for tankers and bulk carriers, and significant support was voiced for moving the phase 3 start date for container ships to 2022. Container vessels would face a mandate to reduce CO2 by 40% over early 2000s levels if current IMO discussions hold.
“A data collection system will be put in place from 1 January 2019 to measure fuel oil consumption”
However, MEPC 73 did not manage to reach an agreement concerning vessels grouped under the heading "other types of vessels", which includes LNG, LPG and other gas-powered vessels, as well as reefers, some passenger ferries and cruise vessels using "non-conventional" propulsion methods. It was felt that there was a lack of data on other types of vessels to reach a decision on EEDI. However, MEPC 73 adopted the 2018 guidelines on the methods of calculation for new ships.
MEPC 73 considered an amendment for a contingency plan in case of failure of a ballast water management system (BWMS) to be added to the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (BWM Convention). Under the BWM Convention it is already possible for flag administrations to add this to their own rules, but the inclusion in MEPC 73 is a placeholder for a future amendment.
It was agreed that further amendments may be required and that two new outputs should be included in its agenda: "Review of the BWM Convention based on data gathered in the experience-building phase", and "Urgent measures emanating from issues identified during the experience-building phase of the BWM Convention", both with a target completion year of 2023.
The use of the term “experience-building phase” was adopted in letters submitted prior to MEPC 73 by those parties seeking a similar process in the implementation of IMO’s 2020 global sulphur cap, but MEPC 73 agreed that the special circumstances surrounding the BWM Convention that required an experience-building phase did not apply to the 2020 sulphur cap.
In addition to confirming the introduction of the IMO 2020 0.5% global sulphur cap with no delay or trial periods, MEPC 73 also adopted the IMO amendment to make it illegal to carry high sulphur fuel from 1 March 2020, unless the vessel is fitted with a scrubber.
The agenda for Marine Environment Protection Committee 74 has not been set, but the items likely to be included at the 3-17 May 2019 session include: