This week, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) approved draft new mandatory regulations to cut the carbon intensity of existing ships.
A virtual meeting held from 16-20 November 2020 discussed the amendments to the MARPOL convention, which would require ships to combine a technical and an operational approach to reduce their carbon intensity.
This builds on current mandatory energy efficiency requirements to further reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shipping.
The MEPC also agreed the terms of reference for assessing the possible impacts on States, paying particular attention to the needs of developing countries, in particular Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs).
The draft amendments to the MARPOL convention would require ships to combine a technical and an operational approach to reduce their carbon intensity. This is in line with the ambition of the Initial IMO GHG Strategy, which aims to reduce carbon intensity of international shipping by at least 40 per cent by 2030, compared to 2008. The amendments were developed by the seventh session of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (ISWG-GHG 7), held as a remote meeting 19-23 October 2020.
The draft amendments will now be put forward for formal adoption at MEPC 76 session, to be held during 2021.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim, said: “Considerable further work on the implementation of the measures is still ahead of us, but I am confident that, the IMO spirit of cooperation, shown during the past years, will enable swift progress with the development of technical guidelines and a Carbon Intensity Code as well as the essential further work on the comprehensive assessment of impacts of the measures on developing countries, SIDs and LDCs. I express my gratitude to all Member States that have indicated a commitment to supporting these efforts.”
He said the approved amendments were important building blocks without which future discussions on mid and long-term measures will not be possible.
The progress in developing the short-term measures follows the timeline as set out in the initial IMO GHG strategy. The strategy proposed that short-term measures should be those measures finalised and agreed by the Committee between 2018 and 2023.
 The draft amendments would add further requirements to the energy efficiency measures in MARPOL Annex VI chapter 4. Current requirements are based on the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), for new build ships, which means they have to be built and designed to be more energy efficient than the baseline; and the mandatory Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP), for all ships. The SEEMP provides for ship operators to have in place a plan to improve energy efficiency through a variety of ship specific measures. The draft amendments build on these measures by bringing in requirements to assess and measure the energy efficiency of all ships and set the required attainment values. The goal is to reduce the carbon intensity of international shipping, working towards the levels of ambition set out in the Initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships.