The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has agreed on a ‘roadmap’ for its strategy to control greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, expecting to adopt an initial IMO strategy in the first half of 2018.
The roadmap is intimately linked with the three-step approach starting with the mandatory fuel consumption data collection system adopted by the 70th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee on October 28, expected to start on 1 January 2019.
Under the three-step approach, data collection is to be followed by data analysis (phase 2), forming the basis for policy decisions (phase 3).
However, due to the pressure on IMO to respond the Paris Agreement the first strategy should be adopted in early 2018, to enable the IMO to report its initial strategy to UNFCCC in late 2018. That is when the Parties to the Paris Agreement will take stock of the collective efforts and inform the Conference of the Parties (COP) on the preparation of “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs).
To bridge the gap between the Third IMO GHG Study and the initial results of the mandatory fuel consumption data collection, the ‘roadmap’ includes a plan to carry out a Fourth IMO GHG Study for the period 2012 to 2018. That study is expected to be initiated in 2019 and submitted to MEPC in the autumn of 2020, when phase 2 of the three-step approach (data analysis) is set to start.
The strategy to be adopted in 2018 will contain a list of possible short, mid-, and long-term measures, to be revised as appropriate as additional information becomes available. It was agreed during MEPC 70 that three years of data from the data collection system should form part of the analysis to enable informed decisions on the IMO framework for reducing GHG emissions.
The roadmap is expected to lead to the adoption of a revised strategy in 2023 to include short-, mid-, and long-term further measures.
The ‘roadmap’ drew both praise and criticism. Green NGOs expressed disappointment at what they saw as a lack of ambition and weak response to the sector’s responsibility in meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, by failing to give a clear indication of the scale of the sectoral GHG reductions that will be needed. Small island developing states (SIDS), meanwhile, felt their special needs as nations that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change along with their utter dependency on seaborne trade had not been sufficiently taken into account in the roadmap.
Despite some objections, the roadmap was approved at MEPC 70 with a view to adoption at the next session.