IMO sets first industry wide emissions strategy

Peter Hinchcliffe: “This is a ground-breaking agreement – a Paris Agreement for shipping” Peter Hinchcliffe: “This is a ground-breaking agreement – a Paris Agreement for shipping”

The IMO has set an absolute target for emissions reduction across the entire maritime industry for the first time in history.

IMO’s Green House Gas (GHG) strategy adopted at the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 72) outlines a target to reduce GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, with the overall aim of phasing them out.

“This is a ground-breaking agreement – a Paris Agreement for shipping,” said Peter Hinchliffe, ICS Secretary General.

“We are confident this will give the shipping industry the clear signal it needs to get on with the job of developing zero CO2 fuels, so that the entire sector will be in a position to decarbonise completely, consistent with the 1.5 degree climate change goal.”

Industry backing

Aside from ICS, the outcome of MEPC 72 has been largely welcomed by industry organisations including BIMCO, The Coalition for Clean Shipping and Interferry.

But Mr Hinchcliffe from ICS warned that the IMO strategy is highly ambitious given current projections for trade growth as the world’s population and levels of prosperity continue to increase.

He said that some governments would have preferred to see the adoption of even more aggressive targets, but he argues that a 50% total cut by 2050 can realistically only be achieved with the development and very widespread use of zero CO2 fuels.

ICS believes that if this 50% goal is successfully met, the wholesale switch by the industry to zero CO2 fuels should therefore follow very swiftly afterwards.

Ferry exemptions

As part of the new IMO strategy, the IMO will apply a 20% correction in its Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) calculation formula for ro-ro and ro-pax vessels that should help revive newbuild projects that have been inhibited by the current criteria.

It’s a decision that has been welcomed by Interferry, which used its IMO consultative status to voice concerns from members that even with highly efficient newbuild designs, the sector-wide target was proving problematic because ferry types are so diverse.

It welcomed the correction saying that it would provide a much-needed margin for many projects that struggle to meet the EEDI requirements, sometimes missing by just a few percentage points.

Way forward

The overall efficiency goal agreed by IMO Member States are a 40% improvement by 2030, compared to 2008, and a 50-70% improvement by 2050.

Industry organisations warn that this can only be achieved if governments recognise the enormity of this challenge and facilitate the rapid development of new technologies and fuels.

Discussions at IMO are now expected to begin in earnest on the development of additional CO2 reduction measures, including those to be implemented before 2023.

The shipping industry will expect to participate constructively in these important discussions.

By Anne-Marie Causer

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