Carbon control high on agenda at IMO environment meeting

24 Sep 2010
MEPC61 is meeting at the IMO in London

MEPC61 is meeting at the IMO in London

The reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from international shipping will be a major focus for discussion at the MEPC 61 meeting which takes place between 27 September and 1 October, 2010 at IMO Headquarters in London.

Also high on the agenda will be the expected adoption of the revised Annex III of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), covering pollution from packaged goods, and consideration of issues relating to the implementation of the ballast water management and ship recycling conventions.

Measures to address GHG from ships

The MEPC is expected to consider the approval of technical and operational measures to reduce CO2 emissions from international shipping (specifically, the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP)) as mandatory measures, possibly as amendments to MARPOL Annex VI Regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships, with the type and size of vessel to which they will apply also to be agreed.

The Committee will additionally discuss further work concerning market-based measures, including the possible development of a mandatory IMO instrument.

A working group on GHG issues will be convened during the session to refine the regulatory text implementing the technical and operational measures as mandatory standards, as well as the formulas and guidelines supporting the regulatory text.

The MEPC will have before it for consideration the outcome of two intersessional working groups, one of which progressed work on the contemplated technical and operational measures to enhance energy efficiency in ships’ operations, while the other, consisting of a group of experts, conducted a feasibility study and impact assessment of a number of proposed market-based measures.

The Committee will also consider the issue of a reduction target and whether the international maritime sector should be subject to an explicit emission ceiling (cap) comprising the entire world fleet of merchant vessels.

Implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention

The MEPC will address issues relating to the implementation of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 and is expected to reiterate the need for ratification of the Convention to achieve its entry into force. To date, [26] States, with an aggregate merchant shipping tonnage of [24.66%] of the world total, have ratified the Convention. The Convention will enter into force twelve months after the date on which not fewer than 30 States, the combined merchant fleets of which constitute not less than 35% of the gross tonnage of the world’s merchant shipping, have become Parties to it.

The MEPC is also expected to decide on proposals for “basic approval” or “final approval” of 10 ballast water management systems that make use of active substances, after consideration of the reports of the thirteenth and fourteenth meetings of the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environment Protection (GESAMP) Ballast Water Working Group, which met in May and July 2010, respectively.

Emission Control Area proposal

The MEPC will consider a proposal to designate certain waters adjacent to coasts of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as an emission control area (ECA) for the control of emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulphur oxide (SOx), and particulate matter under MARPOL Annex VI. Currently, there are two designated ECAs under Annex VI, the Baltic Sea area and the North Sea area, and a third area, the North American ECA, was adopted in March 2010, with expected entry into force in August 2011.

Further topics up for discussion include:

  • adoption of the revised MARPOL Annex III Regulations for the prevention of pollution by harmful substances carried by sea in packaged form;
  • development of guidelines intended to assist ship recycling facilities;
  • consideration of a proposed draft amendment to revise and update MARPOL Annex V Regulations for the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships and its guidelines;
  • proposed amendments to MARPOL Annex IV Prevention of pollution by sewage from ships to include the possibility of establishing special areas for the prevention of such pollution;
  • designation of the Strait of Bonifacio as a particularly sensitive sea area (PSSA); and
  • approval of draft texts for  the revised Manual on oil pollution, Section I - Prevention and the Guidance document on the implementation of an incident management system.

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