It contains a commitment to cutting GHG emissions from shipping as a matter of urgency and to phasing them out entirely as soon as possible. The COP heard that IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) has approved draft amendments to strengthen the energy efficiency design requirements for new ships; and an intersessional working group meeting has considered various mandatory proposals aimed at reducing the carbon intensity of existing ships. Further development of concrete proposals is expected at the next intersessional working group and MEPC meetings in March-April 2020.
IMO also reported to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA 51) on the continued successful execution of two important capacity-building projects (GloMEEP and the global GMN network for energy-efficient shipping), which are supporting developing countries in the implementation of IMO’s energy efficiency measures; and the initiation of a third, GreenVoyage-2050 project, to support global efforts to demonstrate and test technical solutions for reducing GHG emissions in shipping and enhance knowledge and information sharing to support the Initial IMO GHG Strategy.
Meanwhile, IMO’s mandatory requirement for data collection on fuel oil consumption of ships is reaching its first full year of reporting; and the fourth IMO GHG study has been initiated, to provide an updated inventory of GHG emissions from international shipping.
In addition to its work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping, IMO is regulating climate change mitigation technologies, including carbon capture and storage in sub-seabed geological formations and marine geoengineering, through the London Convention and the London Protocol, to ensure protection of the marine environment (read more here).
Download IMO COP 25 statement here. IMO will participate in a number of side events during the COP 25 summit.
Opening IMO’s biennial IMO Assembly (25 November-4 December), IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim made a specific call on Member States for “concrete action” to deliver IMO’s GHG reduction strategy.
IMO continues to contribute to the global fight against climate change, in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 13, to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
|IMO has adopted mandatory measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from international shipping, under IMO’s pollution prevention treaty (MARPOL) – the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) mandatory for new ships, and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP)..
In 2018, IMO adopted an initial IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships, setting out a vision which confirms IMO’s commitment to reducing GHG emissions from international shipping and to phasing them out as soon as possible.
IMO is also executing global technical cooperation projects to support the capacity of States, particularly developing States to implement and support energy efficiency in the shipping sector.
Click on the image on the right to view and download a PDF leaflet on IMO Action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, including a timeline.
Below you will find some frequently asked questions about IMO’s work to reduce GHG emissions from shipping.
A detailed historical overview of IMO’s work can be found here.
In October 2018 (MEPC 73), IMO approved a follow-up programme, intended to be used as a planning tool in meeting the timelines identified in the initial IMO strategy. The streams of activity identified in the programme of follow-up actions include:
Member States have been invited to submit concrete proposals on candidate short-term and mid-term measures to the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC). The MEPC is the decision-making body. The MEPC usually establishes a Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships, which meets during each MEPC session and reports to the plenary of the Committee.
To help move forward with the implementation of the initial GHG strategy, intersessional meetings of the working group are also held.
The sixth meeting of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships met 11-15 November 2019. (Read outcome here.)
The seventh meeting of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships will be held 23-30 March 2020. This is just before and back to back with the next Committee session, MEPC 75 (30 March to 3 April 2020).
The intersessional working group will:
The initial GHG strategy envisages, in particular, a reduction in carbon intensity of international shipping (to reduce 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); and that total annual GHG emissions from international shipping should be reduced 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 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).
The strategy envisages that a revised strategy will be adopted in 2023. Feeding in to the process towards the adoption of the revised Strategy in 2023 will be the data collection system on fuel oil consumption of ships over 5,000 gross tons, which began on 1 January 2019.
The initial strategy includes the following:
IMO remains committed to reducing GHG emissions from international shipping and, as a matter of urgency, aims to phase them out as soon as possible in this century.
Levels of ambition
The Initial Strategy identifies levels of ambition for the international shipping sector noting that technological innovation and the global introduction of alternative fuels and/or energy sources for international shipping will be integral to achieve the overall ambition. Reviews should take into account updated emission estimates, emissions reduction options for international shipping, and the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC ). Levels of ambition directing the Initial Strategy are as follows:
.1 carbon intensity of the ship to decline through implementation of further phases of the energy efficiency design index (EEDI) for new ships
to review with the aim to strengthen the energy efficiency design requirements for ships with the percentage improvement for each phase to be determined for each ship type, as appropriate;
.2 carbon intensity of international shipping to decline
to reduce 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; and
.3 GHG emissions from international shipping to peak and decline
to peak GHG emissions from international shipping 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 as called for in the Vision as a point on a pathway of CO2 emissions reduction consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goals.
Note: The Paris Agreement on climate change was agreed in 2015 by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and entered into force in 2016. The Paris Agreement central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Paris Agreement does not include international shipping, but IMO, as the regulatory body for the industry, is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping.
IMO is the only organization to have adopted energy-efficiency measures that are legally binding across an entire global industry, applying to all countries.
The MEPC 74th session in May 2019 approved, for adoption at the next session in April 2020, amendments to MARPOL Annex VI to significantly strengthen the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) “phase 3” requirements.
The draft amendments bring forward the entry into effect date of phase 3 to 2022, from 2025, for several ship types, including gas carriers, general cargo ships and LNG carriers. This means that new ships built from that date must be significantly more energy efficient than the baseline.
The MEPC also agreed terms of reference for a correspondence group to look into the introduction of a possible “phase 4” of EEDI requirements.
The initial strategy recognizes that the impacts on States of a measure should be assessed and taken into account as appropriate before adoption of the measure. Particular attention should be paid to the needs of developing countries, especially small island developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs). When assessing impacts on States the impact of a measure should be considered, as appropriate, inter alia, in the following terms:
Disproportionately negative impacts should be assessed and addressed, as appropriate.
MEPC 74 (May 2019) approved the Procedure for assessing impacts on States of candidate measures for reduction of GHG emissions from ships. The procedure identifies four steps:
Impact assessments should be evidence-based and should take into account, as appropriate, analysis tools and models, such as, cost-effectiveness analysis tools, e.g. maritime transport cost models, trade flows models, impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP); updated Marginal Abatement Cost Curves (MACCs); and economic trade models, transport models and combined trade-transport models.
MEPC 74 (May 2019) adopted resolution MEPC.323(74) on Invitation to Member States to encourage voluntary cooperation between the port and shipping sectors to contribute to reducing GHG emissions from ships.
The initial GHG strategy adopted by IMO includes a range of candidate short-term measures – including: “consider and analyse the use of speed optimization and speed reduction as a measure, taking into account safety issues, distance travelled, distortion of the market or to trade and that such measure does not impact on shipping’s capability to serve remote geographic areas”.
So this is certainly something that Member States are discussing.
The guidelines for the mandatory Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) already refer to “speed optimization” as a potential approach to improve the energy efficiency of the ship, recognizing that speed optimization can produce significant savings.
The 2016 Guidelines for the development of a ship energy efficiency management plan (SEEMP) can be downloaded here.
Biofuels could be one of the options. If we are to achieve the goals set out in the initial strategy it will be important to develop and implement measures suitable for the existing fleet.
The advantage of such biofuels is their ‘drop-in’ capability to be used in the existing fleet meaning that they can readily replace hydrocarbon liquid fuels. However, as indicated before it is an imperative that such biofuels are produced from sustainable feedstocks and using sustainable energy supplies. There are also wider considerations, such as availability, and sustainability of the production of biofuel and so on.
It is clear that the global introduction of alternative fuels and/or energy sources for international shipping will be integral to achieve the overall ambitions set out in IMO’s initial strategy for reducing GHG emissions from international shipping.
There is room for all options to be considered, including electric and hybrid power, hydrogen and other fuel types.
There is also a lot that can be done to improve energy efficiency of ships through operational measures. The IMO-industry alliance (GIA) is looking at how the barriers to just-in-time ship operation can be mitigated. Currently, many ships expend hours or days waiting outside ports and running their diesel engines – just-in-time operations could significantly cut emissions.
In the initial IMO strategy, there is a clear ambition to pursue efforts towards phasing out GHG emissions from international shipping entirely, by the end of this century. This has to become a reality.
As United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said, “We need to put the brake on deadly greenhouse gas emissions and drive climate action…. The world is counting on all of us to rise to the challenge before it’s too late”
Research and development will be crucial, as the targets agreed in the IMO initial strategy will not be met using fossil fuels. There is a need to make zero-carbon ships more attractive and to direct investments towards innovative sustainable technologies and alternative fuels.
Some of the things that have been identified in the GHG strategy include looking at the provision of ship and shore-side/on-shore power supply from renewable sources and developing infrastructure to support supply of alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels.
The need to further optimize the logistic chain and its planning, including ports is also identified as a candidate short-term measure, along with the initiation of research and development activities addressing marine propulsion, alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels, and innovative technologies to further enhance the energy efficiency of ships.
In the mid-term, the strategy identifies candidate measures, including an implementation programme for the effective uptake of alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels, including update of national actions plans to specifically consider such fuels. In this regard, there may need to be further consideration given as to how to incentivise the uptake of alternative fuels and innovative technologies.
Also identified as a candidate short-term measure is the need to undertake additional GHG emission studies and consider other studies to inform policy decisions, including the updating of Marginal Abatement Cost Curves and alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels.
Support for implementation of IMO’s energy-efficiency measures is provided, in particular, through major global projects executed by IMO. These include:
The Global Maritime Energy Efficiency Partnerships Project (GloMEEP Project), aimed at supporting the uptake and implementation of energy efficiency measures for shipping, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions from shipping. The GloMEEP project was launched in 2015 in collaboration with the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Development Programme. Website: http://glomeep.imo.org/
The “Global Industry Alliance to Support Low Carbon Shipping” (or GIA), launched in 2017 under the auspices of the GloMEEP Project, is identifying and developing solutions that can support overcoming barriers to the uptake of energy efficiency technologies and operational measures in the shipping sector. Website: https://glomeep.imo.org/global-industry-alliance/global-industry-alliance-gia/
The global maritime technology network (GMN) project, funded by the European Union, has established a network of five Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres (MTCCs) in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific. Through collaboration and outreach activities at regional level, the MTCCs will focus their efforts during 2018 and beyond to help countries develop national maritime energy-efficiency policies and measures, promote the uptake of low-carbon technologies and operations in maritime transport and establish voluntary pilot data-collection and reporting systems. Website: http://gmn.imo.org/
GreenVoyage-2050 project, a collaboration between IMO and the Government of Norway. The project, launched in 2019, will initiate and promote global efforts to demonstrate and test technical solutions for reducing such emissions, as well as enhancing knowledge and information sharing to support the IMO GHG reduction strategy. Read more here.
Multi-donor trust fund for GHG – MEPC 74 (May 2019) agreed to establish a voluntary multi-donor trust fund (“GHG TC-Trust Fund”), to provide a dedicated source of financial support for technical cooperation and capacity-building activities to support the implementation of the Initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships.
The initial strategy includes candidate measures (see details further down this page), with the following timelines:
IMO participates in the UN Climate Change Conferences, providing updates to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) under agenda item 10 on Emissions from fuel used for international aviation and maritime transport. Read more here on the UNFCCC website here.
Candidate short-term measures are measures which can be categorized as those the effect of which is to directly reduce GHG emissions from ships and those which support action to reduce GHG emissions from ships.
All the following candidate measures represent possible short-term further action of IMO on matters related to the reduction of GHG emissions from ships:
Candidate mid-term measures are measures which can be categorized as those the effect of which is to directly reduce GHG emissions from ships and those which support action to reduce GHG emissions from ships. All the following candidate measures represent possible mid-term further action of IMO on matters related to the reduction of GHG emissions from ships:
Candidate long-term measures – the following candidate measures represent possible long-term further action of the Organization on matters related to the reduction of GHG emissions from ships:
Fourth IMO GHG Study
The terms of reference for the Fourth IMO GHG Study were agreed by MEPC 74 (May 2019).
The study will include:
The IMO fourth GHG study has been contracted to a CE Delft-led consortium.
The final report of the Study will be submitted to MEPC 76 (19-23 October 2020).
A Steering Committee has been established to act as a focal point for MEPC, to review and monitor progress and confirm that the Study meets the terms of reference. The Steering Committee is composed of the following 13 Member States: Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Panama, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Turkey and the United States. Mr. Harry Conway (Liberia), in his capacity as Vice-Chair of the Marine Environment Protection Committee, acts as the Coordinator of the Steering Committee.
Completed reports and studies:
(The views and conclusions expressed in the studies are those of the authors)
Studies and reports can be found here. They include: