Delicate balance as IMO’s new GHG reduction measures come up for adoption
An IMO working group meeting head of the 76th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 76) struggled to reach consensus on a set of draft guidelines to support mandatory measures to cut the carbon intensity of all ships.
The working group was attended by many of the same delegates that will be at MEPC 76, which is due to consider, with a view to adoption, draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI prescribing technical and operational measures to reduce the carbon intensity of ships.
These new measures are the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) relating to how the ship is equipped and retrofitted, and an operational carbon intensity indicator (CII). Both are intended to help achieve the ambition of the Initial IMO GHG Strategy to reduce carbon intensity of international shipping by 40% by 2030, compared to 2008.
The Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (ISWG-GHG 8), which met remotely from 24-28 May, saw very divergent views on some aspects of the guidelines to support the new mandatory measures. Discussions became heated, in particular, around carbon intensity reduction factors relative to 2019 reference lines.
ISWG-GHG 8 discussed reduction factors ranging from 10% to 75%, settling on 22% as a compromise arguing this was the top end of figures that had been discussed in a correspondence group prior to ISWG-GHG 8. It was not, however, an easy compromise.
Having decided on the 22% reduction factor to 2030 compared to 2019, ISWG-GHG 8 agreed on another compromise for how to get there, and has put forward to MEPC 76 the concept of 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. This means a review required under the draft MARPOL amendments will need to further strengthen the annual reduction rate from 2026 to 2030 to achieve a 22% reduction factor.
A number of delegations expressed intense frustration during ISWG-GHG 8, claiming the guidelines would not be effective at achieving the 2030 goals of the IMO’s initial GHG strategy. Coupled with the uneasy compromise on the guidelines, it suggests a delicate balance when MEPC 76 meets from 10-17 June to adopt the new energy efficiency measures and associated guidelines.
Guidelines put forward to MEPC 76 for adoption following ISWG-GHG 8 relate to the EEXI and CII and will “provide important tools for Administrations and industry to implement the new requirements, and building blocks for future energy efficiency measures,” the IMO said in a press release.
ISWG-GHG 8 agreed to establish a Correspondence Group on Carbon Intensity Reduction, to further consider and finalise the draft updated Guidelines for the development of a Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP); further consider and update existing guidelines, procedures or guidance, including the 2017 guidelines related to the ship fuel oil data collection system; develop draft guidelines on correction factors for certain ship types, operational profiles and/or voyages for the CII calculations, and develop specific guidance on the audit and verification processes of SEEMP as well as possible parameters and templates for reporting, verification and submission of data for trial CIIs of individual ships on voluntary basis.