IMO adopts tougher emissions rules

By Jack Burke21 June 2021

Ships to be rated on energy efficiency

New mandatory measures to cut the carbon intensity of international shipping adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), setting shipping on a course to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets established in the 2018 Initial IMO Strategy for Reducing GHG Emissions from Ships.

IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 76) adopted amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex VI that will require ships to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. These amendments combine technical and operational approaches to improve the energy efficiency of ships, also providing important building blocks for future GHG reduction measures.

The new measures will require all ships to calculate their Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) following technical means to improve their energy efficiency and to establish their annual operational carbon intensity indicator (CII) and CII rating. Carbon intensity links the GHG emissions to the amount of cargo carried over distance traveled.

Ships will get a rating of their energy efficiency (A, B, C, D, E - where A is the best). Administrations, port authorities and other stakeholders as appropriate, are encouraged to provide incentives to ships rated as A or B also sending out a strong signal to the market and financial sector.

A ship rated D for three consecutive years, or E, is required to submit a corrective action plan, to show how the required index (C or above) would be achieved.

The 76th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 76) was held remotely with a limited agenda in June. MEPC 76 adopted technical and operational measures to reduce carbon intensity of international shipping, taking effect starting in 2023.

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said the adoption of the new measures would build on IMO’s previously adopted mandatory energy efficiency measures, to lead shipping on the right path towards decarbonization.

“The path to decarbonization is a long, but also a common path in which we need to consider and respect each other’s views. We have made a considerable amount of progress since the start of our journey,” Mr. Lim said, “ … your progress will continue to provide the benefit of experience to be able to make ambitious, and evidence-based decisions for phase 3 of the implementation of the operational measure which will be further strengthened and developed taking into account the review of the short-term measure and the latest climate science,” he added.

The amendments to MARPOL Annex VI (adopted in a consolidated revised Annex VI) are expected to enter into force on Nov. 1, 2022, with the requirements for EEXI and CII certification coming into effect from Jan. 1, 2023. This means that the first annual reporting will be completed in 2023, with the first rating given in 2024.

A review clause requires the IMO to review the effectiveness of the implementation of the CII and EEXI requirements, by Jan. 1, 2026 at the latest, and, if necessary, develop and adopt further amendments.

MARPOL Annex VI has 100 Contracting States, who between them represent 96.65% of world merchant shipping by tonnage.

While decarbonization was perhaps the key topic of meeting, MEPC 76 also adopted amendments to MARPOL Annex I prohibiting the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in the Arctic, as well as amendments to MARPOL Annex I and IV concerning the exemption of unmanned non-self-propelled (UNSP) barges from survey and certification requirements and draft amendments to the AFS Convention to include controls on the biocide cybutryne.

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