MEPC 73: what’s on the agenda?

MEPC 73: what’s on the agenda?

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), 73rd session, due to take place October 22-26, is expected to discuss and implement guidance to help the shipping and maritime industries reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency of their operations.

Held at the IMO headquarters in London, the event will be chaired by Mr. Hideaki Saito of Japan. The five-day discussions will cover key topics including the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships, energy efficiency, implementation of the 2020 sulphur cap, and use and carriage of heavy fuel oil (HFO).

2020 sulphur limit

The global 0.5 per cent cap on sulphur emissions will enter into force on January 1, 2020. IMO has been working with Member States and the industry to support implementation of the new limit. MEPC 73 is expected to approve ship implementation planning guidance as well as best practice guides for Member States and coastal States and for fuel oil suppliers.

MEPC is expected to adopt a complementary MARPOL amendment, which will prohibit the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil, unless the ship has a scrubber fitted. This is an additional measure to support consistent implementation and compliance and enforcement by States, particularly Port State Control (PSC).

The IMO confirms that most ships are expected to utilise new blends of fuel oil, which will be produced to meet the 0.5 per cent limit on sulphur in fuel oil.

Review on the energy efficiency of ships

​The MEPC will receive a report on progress by the correspondence group on review of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) “beyond phase 2”. The correspondence group has submitted an interim report to MEPC 73 with a final report due to be submitted to MEPC 74 (Spring 2019), providing a recommendation on the time period and reduction rates for EEDI “phase 3” requirements. This could lead to a tightening of requirements for certain new ships.

Use and carriage of HFO in Arctic waters

​IMO has agreed that its Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) should develop a ban on HFO for use and carriage as fuel by ships in Arctic waters. The decision was based on an assessment of the impacts of such a ban.

MEPC 73 will consider, with a view to approval, an appropriate impact assessment methodology process.

Reduction of GHG emissions

MEPC 73 is expected to develop and agree a programme of actions to implement the initial IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships, which was adopted in April 2018.

The GHG strategy envisages a reduction in total GHG emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2050 compared to 2008, while, at the same time, efforts should be pursued towards phasing them out entirely.

IMO will consider a range of short, mid, and long-term measures to reach the target. The data collection system on fuel oil consumption of ships over 5,000 gross tons, which begins on 1 January 2019; and a fourth IMO GHG study, to be initiated in the first half of 2019, will also be discussed.

Other areas for discussion during MEPC 73 include marine plastic litter, the implementation of the ballast water management treaty, and draft amendments to MARPOL on high-viscosity substances.