MEPC adopts mandatory GHG measures

21 Jul 2011
MEPC, at its 62nd meeting, agreed to make the EEDI mandatory for new ships, and the SEEMP mandatory for existing vessels

MEPC, at its 62nd meeting, agreed to make the EEDI mandatory for new ships, and the SEEMP mandatory for existing vessels

The International Maritime Organization reports that the recent MEPC 62 meeting agreed mandatory measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from international shipping.

The measures were adopted by the parties to MARPOL Annex VI represented in the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting at IMO HQ in London for its 62nd session from 11 to 15 July 2011. IMO says this represents the first ever mandatory global greenhouse gas reduction regime for an international industry sector.

The amendments to MARPOL Annex VI add a new chapter 4 on regulations on energy efficiency for ships, to make mandatory the energy efficiency design index (EEDI), for new ships, and the ship energy efficiency management plan (SEEMP) for all ships. Other amendments to Annex VI add new definitions and the requirements for survey and certification, including the format for the international energy efficiency certificate. The regulations apply to all ships of 400gt and above and are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2013.

The EEDI is a non-prescriptive, performance-based mechanism that leaves the choice of technologies to use in a specific ship design to the industry. As long as the required energy-efficiency level is attained, ship designers and builders would be free to use the most cost-efficient solutions for the ship to comply with the regulations. The SEEMP establishes a mechanism for operators to improve the energy efficiency of ships.

However, under regulation 19, the Administration may waive the requirement for new ships of 400 gross tonnage and above from complying with the EEDI requirements. This waiver may not be applied to ships above 400 gross tonnage for which the building contract is placed four years after the entry into force date of chapter 4; the keel of which is laid or which is at a similar stage of construction four years and six months after the entry into force; the delivery of which is after six years and six months after the entry into force; or in cases of the major conversion of a new or existing ship, four years after the entry into force date.

The amendments include a regulation on promotion of technical co-operation and transfer of technology relating to the improvement of energy efficiency of ships, which requires Administrations, in co-operation with IMO and other international bodies, to promote and provide, as appropriate, support directly or through IMO to states, especially developing states, that request technical assistance. The new chapter also requires the Administration of a party to co-operate actively with other parties, subject to its national laws, regulations and policies, to promote the development and transfer of technology and exchange of information to states, which request technical assistance, particularly developing states, in respect of the implementation of measures to fulfil the requirements of Chapter 4.

MEPC agreed a work plan to continue the work on energy efficiency measures for ships, to include the development of the EEDI framework for ship types and sizes, and propulsion systems, not covered by the current EEDI requirements and the development of EEDI and SEEMP-related guidelines.

Commenting at the close of the session, on the outcome of MEPC, IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos expressed satisfaction at the many and various significant achievements with which the session should be credited.

“Although not by consensus – which of course would be the ideal outcome – the Committee has now adopted amendments to MARPOL Annex VI introducing mandatory technical and operational measures for the energy efficiency of ships. Let us hope that the work to follow on these issues will enable all Members to build the consensus that evaded the Committee this time,” he said.

The move has attracted a certain amount of support so far. The Carbon War Room, which includes a number of major ship operators, welcomed MEPC’s decision. COO Peter Boyd, who spoke on the subject at the 2011 Motorship Propulsion and Emissions conference in Copenhagen, said the new standards, if applied to all ships, not just newbuilds, would save the industry more than 220 million tons of CO2 and $50 billion a year. “This is a historic move by the IMO but there’s a bigger environmental and economic opportunity out there that’s too good to miss,” he said. “There is a $70 billion subsidy for environmental improvement in shipping, called fuel savings from more efficient vessels. The IMO decision on new-builds should result in fuel savings of $5 billion annually by 2020 (and CO2 reductions of over 20 million tons). The real prize for the planet and profitability is in the existing fleet.”

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