Sailing Toward Lower Emissions

By Mike Brezonick20 April 2018

Nations recently meeting at the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London have adopted an initial strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships, setting out a vision to reduce GHG emissions from international shipping and phase them out, as soon as possible in this century. 

Under the identified “levels of ambition,” the initial strategy envisages for the first time a reduction in total GHG emissions from international shipping which it said should peak as soon as possible and to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008. The strategy includes a specific reference to “a pathway of CO2 emissions reduction consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goals,” the organization said.

The initial strategy was adopted by IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), during its 72nd session at IMO Headquarters in London. The meeting was attended by more than 100 IMO Member States. 

The initial strategy represents a framework for Member States, setting out the future vision for international shipping, the levels of ambition to reduce GHG emissions and guiding principles; and includes candidate short-, mid- and long-term further measures with possible timelines and their impacts on states. The strategy also identifies barriers and supportive measures including capacity building, technical cooperation and research and development (R&D).

According to the roadmap approved by IMO Member States in 2016, the initial strategy is due to be revised by 2023. The group also will hold the fourth intersessional meeting of the Working Group on Reduction of GHG emissions from ships later in the year. This working group will be tasked with developing a program of follow-up actions to the initial strategy; further considering how to progress reduction of GHG emissions from ships in order to advise the committee; and reporting to the next session of the MEPC (MEPC 73), which meets in October.

IMO is executing global technical cooperation projects to support the capacity of States, particularly developing states to implement and support energy efficiency in the shipping sector.

The Initial Strategy identifies levels of ambition for the international shipping sector that include:

– The carbon intensity of ships to decline through implementation of further phases of the energy efficiency design index (EEDI) for new ships and to review and strengthen the energy efficiency design requirements for ships with the percentage improvement for each phase to be determined for each ship type as appropriate.

– The carbon intensity of international shipping is to decline, reducing CO2 emissions per transport work as an average across international shipping, by at least 40% by 2030, pursuing efforts towards 70% by 2050, compared to 2008.

 GHG emissions from international shipping to peak and decline as soon as possible and to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 whilst pursuing efforts towards phasing them out.

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