IMO adopts next step in GHG regulations

After prolonged and intense debate, the 76th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 76), which met from 10 to 17 June 2021, adopted a package of short-term technical measures to reduce the carbon intensity of global shipping.

Amendments to MARPOL Annex VI will see the introduction of new mandatory measures: The Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) relating to how the ship is equipped and retrofitted, an operational carbon intensity indicator (CII) and a CII rating system. They are intended to help achieve the ambition of the Initial IMO GHG Strategy adopted in 2018, to reduce carbon intensity of international shipping by 40% by 2030, compared to 2008.

The amendments to MARPOL Annex VI are expected to enter into force on 1 November 2022, with the requirements for EEXI and CII certification coming into effect from 1 January 2023.

MEPC 76 also adopted guidelines supporting EEXI and operational carbon intensity reduction measures. These had already been discussed in detail at the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (ISWG-GHG 8) at the end of May, where deep divisions were seen over operational carbon intensity reduction factors relative to 2019 reference lines (CII Reduction factor Guidelines, G3). Much of same discussion was reiterated at MEPC 76, but in the end, the delicately balanced compromise solution agreed during ISWG-GHG 8 was adopted.

IMO member States are divided between those that think the carbon intensity reduction factor is too weak to meet the aims of the Paris Agreement and the IMO’s own 2030 carbon intensity reduction target, and those who think it is the right solution for now as each step must be accompanied by careful assessment and review of the potential negative impact on states, in particular the least developed countries (LDCs) and mall island developing states (SIDS).

The plan for the G3 Guidelines is a phased approach. This would see an annual successive carbon intensity reduction rate of 2% compared to the 2019 reference line from 2023 (when the MARPOL amendments would enter into force) through to 2026, totalling 11% in the initial stages, and targeting 22% by 2030. A review will determine how to further strengthen the annual reduction rate from 2026 to 2030.

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