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  April 17th, 2018 | Written by

IMO Adopts Strategy For Further Reductions of CO2 Emissions

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  • Some EU officials pushed for 70-percent to 100-percent cuts in shipping CO2 emissions by mid-century.
  • The US and Saudi Arabia dragged their feet over adopting CO2 standards eventually agreed upon at IMO meeting.
  • IMO strategy matches the expectations of the Paris climate agreement.

The Maritime Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) of the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted a strategy for further reductions by the shipping industry of CO2 emissions at a meeting in London last week.

The MEPC adopted goals that would reduce ocean-carrier emissions by 50 percent by 2050, compared to 2008 levels. That matched the position being pushed by Norway’s government and its shipowners’ association and supported by industry groups like the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and Canada’s Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC). Some officials of the European Union, including its climate commissioner and transportation commissioner, advocated for 70-percent to 100-percent cuts in emissions by mid-century, while the United States and Saudi Arabia were reportedly dragging their feet earlier in the week over adopting the standards eventually agreed upon.

Advocates of the adopted plan emphasized that the strategy matches the expectations of the Paris climate agreement and sets global standards. “Agreement upon a mid-century objective for the total reduction of CO2 emissions by the sector, regardless of trade growth, is vital to discourage unilateral action and to provide the signal needed to stimulate the development of zero-CO2 fuels” said Esben Poulsson, the ICS chairman.

The MEPC’s new greenhouse gas (GHG) standards represents the second stage of a three-step approach under an IMO strategy agreed to in 2016 for reducing emissions from ships. The first is a set of requirements for ships to collect data on their fuel oil consumption which entered into force on March 1, 2018 with amendments to International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).

The reporting requirements under those amendments will begin on January 1, 2019, with data to be reported at the end of each year to the IMO. The purpose is to inform further measures needed to enhance energy efficiency and to address GHG emissions related to international shipping.

Under new Regulation 22A, ships of 5,000 gross tons and above are required to collect consumption data for each type of fuel oil they use. These ships account for 85 percent of CO2 emissions from international shipping. Data will be reported to flag states each year, and the flag state must determine the data has been properly reported and issue a statement of compliance to the ship.

Meanwhile, the IMO’s restrictions on sulfur oxide will come into force in January 2020. Those measures restrictions will reduce acceptable SOx levels, from 3.50 percent m/m (mass of sulfur/total mass) today to 0.50 percent m/m in 2020.