Key issues on the IMO GHG strategy at the MEPC 80

Shipping Emissions Carbon Co2 - Carbon Intensity indicator

During the GREEN4SEA Forum 2023, Dr Edmund Hughes, Director of Green Marine Associates, presented key issues that need to be resolved in the IMO GHG Strategy Review at MEPC 80 in July. He briefly touched on the current state of the IMO negotiations and provided an overview of the proposed technical and economic measures being considered by the IMO, including ways to encourage the adoption of low and no carbon alternative fuels, reports Safety4Sea.

Here are two reasons why shipping changes. One is to earn more money and the other is regulation. Right now, we have many discussions about objectives, goals, ambitions, barriers and what we are going to do until 2050. But what the European Union is doing is regular. Mandatory requirements that make people act, change and have to respond.

In the article, Safety4Sea mentions that if the IMO does not come up with credible plans and policies, then the likelihood of action being taken after that will be diminished. This will happen because people will look at those measures and say that they are not viable for shipping and global trade and the trade that it offers. Furthermore, it will further undermine IMO’s primacy as the global regulator of shipping, as other regions/countries are likely to take their own steps to regulate GHG emissions from internationally trading ships.

The following key issues are really major issues that still need to be resolved by governments at IMO.

  • Other GHG or CO2 emissions only?
  • Will the ship’s carbon intensity be strengthened in 2030? N.B. CII review before 2026
  • Additional GHG emission reduction targets added in 2030 and 2040?
  • Absolute zero or net zero?
  • “By 2050 at the latest”, “around mid-century”, “within this century”?
  • Emission reductions on a “Well-to-Wake”, “Tank-to-Wake” or “life-cycle” basis?
  • Alternative fuel use target, e.g. 5% in 2030? What basis, e.g. energy used, fleet base, mass of fuel consumed, etc.?
  • IMO determined carbon budget for the international shipping sector or science based/aligned with 1.5°C?
  • “Fair and equitable transition”
  • Completion date and agreement of intermediate measures identified before 2030?
  • Key milestones?
  • Future reviews/review every 5 years?
  • Measurement basket

A technical measure, a global fuel standard similar to the EU maritime regulation on fuel, has been proposed, mainly by EU member states, but this proposal includes a kind of trading system called a “surplus reward system” as a way to comply and there is very little support from governments in the IMO for an ’emissions trading’ approach. It is suggested that a global GHG fuel standard like the one that already exists for sulfur would be simpler to implement/enforce and, more importantly, would mean that the responsibility for fueling the ship would rest with the fuel supplier.
Economic measure: to close the cost gap with carbon fuels and reduce the economic risk of using low/no carbon alternative fuels and encourage adoption.
Development of Life Cycle Carbon/GHG Intensity Guidelines for All Fuel Types, for Effective Adoption of Low-Carbon and No-Carbon Alternative Fuels: Implementation.
Going forward, we need to look at mandatory measures, specifically the impacts on developing country states in particular, as they want to know how these measures will affect them in terms of their trade and their economies and, frankly, do they think the impacts are going to be too negative, then they will not agree to a measure.

Impacts on the States

Disproportionate negative impacts must be assessed and addressed, as appropriate.
Apply future measures to all ships, but mitigate disproportionate impacts on developing States, particularly SIDS and LDCs, e.g. disbursement of funds raised through the implementation of an economic measure on ships
We need the regulations to be up to date if we are going to use all of these alternatives. We have to make sure the ships are safe. Eight years ago all of these ships in the figure below were just concepts, but now they are already in service or eminently possible. Now we need a regulatory framework that allows us and encourages us to move forward.

Source: Safety4Sea

Source Safety4Sea

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