IMO moves ahead with stricter efficiency targets for new ships

International shipping will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent from 2008 levels by 2050 under new measures adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

In a May meeting, the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) pushed forward with proposals to accelerate phase 3 of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new vessels to support the goal of reducing greenhouse gases. The amendments are expected to be adopted at the next IMO session in April 2020.

The EEDI update for newbuilds calls for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent for the largest containerships by 2022, compared to an earlier target of a 30 percent improvement by 2025. For the smallest containerships, the improvement is 30 percent, with other targets varying depending on the deadweight tonnage.

New general cargo ships, gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers, and hybrid diesel-electric cruise ships also will have to be up to 30 percent more efficient by 2022.

However, some critics of the measures say that many new ships already meet those targets, and more stringent goals should be set. The MEPC has agreed to study the possible introduction of a phase 4 of the EEDI requirements.

The MEPC also voted to conduct a fourth study of greenhouse gas emissions, including an inventory of current global emissions and relevant substances emitted from ships of 100 gross tons or more engaged in international voyages. The inventory will include total annual emissions from 2012 to 2018, or as far back as statistical data are available. The study also will examine carbon intensity of the world’s fleet, comparing CO2 emissions to transport work performed between 2012 and 2018, and going back to 2008 if possible.

The MEPC also adopted a resolution encouraging cooperation with ports to reduce emissions from shipping. Steps could include regulatory, technical, operational and economic actions, such as the provision of onshore power supplies from renewable sources; safe and efficient bunkering of alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels; incentives promoting sustainable low-carbon and zero-carbon shipping; and support for the optimization of port calls, including facilitation of just-in-time arrival of ships.

For existing vessels and short-term measures to reduce emissions, the MEPC discussed various proposals, including strengthening the energy efficiency requirements for existing ships, and governing speed and other technical and operational measures.

In view of the large number of proposals, the working group focused on how to consider, organize and streamline proposals for candidate short-term measures. The MEPC will consider concrete proposals for mid- to long-term measures, such as encouraging the increased use of alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels.

The committee also approved a procedure to assess the impact of the proposed measures, and agreed to establish a multi-donor trust fund for greenhouse gases. Additional intersessional groups are scheduled to meet in November 2019 and March 2020 to continue working on the issues.

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