Home » Breaking News, Maritime » IMO bares latest progress in meeting ship emissions targets

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced that its working group has made significant progress in helping shipping meet greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets, including by advancing work on early, short- and long-term measures for reducing ship emissions.

In its sixth session held November 11-15, the IMO Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships pushed forward with efforts to help achieve ambitious targets to urgently decarbonize international shipping in this century, said IMO in a statement.

For one, it agreed to put forward for adoption early next year the draft text of a resolution urging member states to develop and update a voluntary National Action Plan (NAP) to reduce GHG emissions from international shipping.

The text suggests such NAPs could include improving domestic institutional and legislative arrangements for the effective implementation of existing IMO instruments; developing activities to further enhance the energy efficiency of ships; and initiating research and advancing the uptake of alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels.

The text also recommends accelerating port emission reduction activities; fostering capacity-building, awareness-raising and regional cooperation; and facilitating the development of infrastructure for green shipping.

For another, the working group discussed proposals relating to technical and operational approaches for the mandatory improvement of the energy efficiency of ships and reduction in GHG emissions, including the energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for all ships of 400 GT and above.

IMO has already adopted mandatory technical and operational measures to improve energy EEDI and the SEEMP. The initial IMO strategy lists a number of candidate measures aiming to further reduce emissions and help achieve targets, in particular 40% reduction of carbon intensity from shipping by 2030. Short-term measures could be measures finalized and agreed by the Committee between 2018 and 2023, with priority given to develop potential early measures to achieve further reduction before 2023. Dates of entry into force and effectivity of measures to reduce GHG emissions will be defined for each measure individually.

Proposals for a technical approach which were discussed included an Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI), which could require ships to meet set energy efficiency requirements. Other technical proposals related to mandatory power limitation on ships.

Operational approaches would include focusing on strengthening the ship energy efficiency management plan, as required in SEEMP. This included proposals for mandatory carbon intensity reduction targets. Operational proposals also included measures to optimize speed for the voyage and those to limit ship speed.

The group agreed on a mandatory goal-based approach for both the technical and operational approaches as this would provide the needed flexibility and incentive for innovation.

The group likewise agreed that the technical and operational approaches should be further developed in parallel, with informal coordination before the next intersessional meeting.

A procedure for assessing the impact on states of a measure was also approved. Proponents were invited to provide further details on the initial impact assessment of their proposal, including whether the proposed measure may generate disproportionately negative impact on some states.

Key underlying issues identified for further consideration included the vital role of shipping for food security and disaster response; the impact on cost of transport and if cost change can be passed on to the customer or not; and special challenges faced by some remote areas.

Meanwhile, on alternative fuels, the working group agreed on establishing a dedicated workstream for developing lifecycle GHG/carbon intensity guidelines for all relevant types of fuels to encourage the uptake of alternative low- and zero-carbon fuels in the shipping sector for the long term.

This could include, for example, biofuels, and electro-/synthetic fuels such as hydrogen or ammonia, among others. Many participants highlighted the importance of undertaking this work as soon as possible to pave the way for the decarbonization of the shipping industry.

Photo by Martin Damboldt

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