IMO season for IBIA

IMO season for IBIA

The first half of 2023 has been dominated by IMO-related work in preparation for key meetings dealing with various aspects that have a direct impact on our members

The last time I wrote this column for World Bunkering, we were preparing for our Annual Dinner and the celebration of IBIA’s 30th anniversary. We were proud to have two distinguished IMO guests of honour attending: Arsenio Dominguez, Director of the Marine Environment Division, and Harry T Conway, Chair of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC).

Celebrating IBIA’s 30th anniversary was an opportunity to reflect on where we came from, what we do now, and where we are going. One of the highlights of IBIA’s 30-year history was achieving NGO consultative status with the IMO in 2005. It came at a crucial time because it coincided with MARPOL Annex VI entering into force, and the start of continuous amendments to this hugely important IMO regulation. First came increasingly tight sulphur emission limits in emission control areas (ECAs), then came IMO 2020. The sulphur emission reductions were primarily aimed at improving air quality, but MARPOL Annex VI is also the regulation that deals with reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Energy efficiency regulations were first adopted in 2011; further regulatory tools have since been added to the mix, most recently the EEXI and the CII. These will support the achievement of the first target in the IMO’s Initial GHG Strategy (adopted in 2018), namely to reduce the carbon intensity of the existing fleet by 40% by 2030.

Going forward, we can expect further amendments to MARPOL Annex VI that will drive significant changes in our industry. These will come to support the achievement of the IMO’s Revised GHG Strategy that should be adopted at MEPC 80 in July, likely bringing in much higher ambitions to accelerate GHG emission reductions from international shipping.

Preparations for that crucial MEPC meeting have been underway for a long time. The so-called Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (ISWG-GHG) has met for week-long sessions 14 times already, most recently in March this year, and will meet for the 15th time in the week preceding MEPC 80. IBIA has been to them all, and we will be at the 15th session to present a paper we have been working on with alternative fuel producers. The ISWG-GHG is instrumental in making progress on the complex and political debates surrounding the revision of the IMO’s GHG Strategy, both the higher ambitions and the selection of policy tools needed to achieve those ambitions.

Another part of MEPC 80 preparations that IBIA has taken part in is the Correspondence Group on Marine Fuel Life Cycle GHG Analysis. This incredibly complex and time-consuming work has been completed over seven rounds, culminating in a huge report to MEPC 80 and a request to consider, finalise and adopt guidelines on life cycle GHG intensity of marine fuels (LCA Guidelines). The impact on future marine fuel supply, in particular documentation and certification of a fuel’s GHG profile, will be profound.

MEPC is not the only IMO committee discussing issues with an impact on IBIA’s members. In April, IBIA attended the sub-committee on Pollution Prevention and Response, where we were co-sponsors on a proposal aimed at ensuring bunker delivery notes (BDNs) in electronic form are acceptable under MARPOL Annex VI. We also took part in discussions on how to reduce environmental damage caused by marine fuels in the Arctic. A full report is available in this issue (Q2, 2023) of World Bunkering.

An IBIA delegation will be at the IMO again from 31 May to 9 June to take part in the 107th session of the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 107). In the run-up to MSC 107, IBIA has taken a very active part in the ‘Correspondence Group on Development of further measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of fuel oil’. We have also submitted several documents to MSC 107, both as co-sponsors and on our own, in a bid to make the regulatory framework and supporting guidelines on this important subject more fit for purpose, pragmatic and supportive of good industry practice.

We are very grateful to the experts in the IBIA Technical Working Group for their support and input to all this work, in particular the work relating to MSC and fuel safety. We are also very grateful to other IBIA members who are working with us to help identify and promote solutions with potential to reduce man-made GHG emissions from shipping now, and in the future.

Input to the IMO’s work is only one part of what IBIA does, but with so many crucial subjects up for discussion at IMO meetings during the first half of this year and into July, this is very much the season for IBIA to focus on it.

Unni Einemo,
IBIA Director and IMO Representative

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