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  November 1st, 2016 | Written by

New Requirements for International Shipping

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  • Data collection system will equip IMO with concrete data to help it make the right decisions.
  • New data collection mandates enhance IMO's position as the best forum for regulating international shipping.
  • Under IMO's new data collection system, aggregated data will be reported to a ship’s flag state each year.

A milestone on the road to controlling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping was achieved with the adoption of new mandatory requirements by the industry’s regulatory authority, the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Under the new requirements, ships of 5,000 gross tonnage and above will have to collect consumption data for each type of fuel oil they use as well as other additional data including proxies for transport work. These ships account for approximately 85 percent of CO2 emissions from international shipping. The data collected will provide a basis on which future decisions on additional measures, over and above those already adopted by IMO, can be made.

The requirements were adopted last week by the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee, (MEPC) meeting in London for its 70th session. IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim said the new requirements sent a clear signal that IMO was ready to build on the existing technical and operational measures for ship energy efficiency.

“The data collection system will equip IMO with concrete data to help it make the right decisions, as well as enhancing its credentials as the best placed and competent forum for regulating international shipping,” said Lim.

The new mandatory data collection system is intended to be the first in a three-step approach in which analysis of the data collected would provide the basis for an objective, transparent and inclusive policy debate in the MEPC. This would allow a decision to be made on whether any further measures are needed to enhance energy efficiency and address greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping. If so, proposed policy options would then be considered.

The MEPC also approved a roadmap for 2017 through to 2023 for developing a “comprehensive IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships,” which foresees an initial GHG strategy to be adopted in 2018.

It contains a list of activities, including further IMO GHG studies, with relevant timelines and provides for alignment of those new activities with the ongoing work by the MEPC on the three-step approach to ship energy efficiency improvements mentioned above. This alignment provides a way forward to the adoption of a revised strategy in 2023 to include short-, mid-, and long-term further measures, as required.

Under the roadmap, and to provide long-term vision for the shipping sector, the MEPC has to address a number of important questions, such as what role should the international shipping sector have in supporting the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Under the new data collection system, aggregated data will be reported to a ship’s flag state after the end of each calendar year. The flag state, having determined that the data has been reported in accordance with the requirements, will issue a statement of compliance to the ship. Flag states will be required to subsequently transfer this data to the IMO Ship Fuel Oil Consumption Database.

The IMO Secretariat would be required to produce an annual report to IMO’s MEPC, summarizing the data collected. Data would be anonymized so individual ship data would not be recognized.

The mandatory requirements are expected to enter into force on March 1, 2018.