At the conclusion of this week’s critical meeting of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), ICS has welcomed the significant progress made on some key environmental issues.
Action Plan for GHG reduction
ICS Chairman, Esben Poulsson commented: “While attention was rightly focused on preparations for the 2020 sulphur cap, IMO also made very good progress towards implementing the ambitious GHG reduction strategy agreed in April, adopting an Action Plan for the development of short term measures that will deliver additional CO2 reductions before 2023 plus longer term measures that will eventually achieve full decarbonisation of international shipping.”
ICS is particularly pleased that IMO Member States have not sought to reopen the historic agreement or the CO2 reduction targets previously agreed and that governments, in partnership with industry, are totally committed to making the GHG strategy a success.
“We were very pleased by the constructive role taken by China, whose proposals for organising future work formed a key part of the agreed IMO Action Plan,” said Esben Poulsson.
While no concrete decisions were taken on specific new CO2 reduction measures, ICS notes broad support for the industry’s proposals for mandatory auditing of Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plans – the ‘Super SEEMP’ – and further improvements to the Energy Efficiency Design Index for future ships. Both are measures which ICS says can be adopted very quickly.
ICS says there is growing understanding amongst Member States about the serious problems associated with ideas such as publishing mandatory operational efficiency indicators or adopting mandatory speed limits (as opposed to speed optimisation measures) due to the potential for seriously distorting shipping markets and disrupting the efficiency of global trade. However, discussions on these ideas will continue at IMO next year.
Mr Poulsson added: “With the Action Plan agreed by IMO this week, the way is now clear to make detailed proposals for specific CO2 reduction measures at the next MEPC in May. In co-operation with other industry associations ICS intends to come forward with detailed ideas, potentially including new and innovative measures for long term CO2 reduction and the development of zero CO2 fuels.”
2020 Global Sulphur Cap
ICS welcomes the adoption by IMO this week of guidelines on implementation of the global 0.5% sulphur in fuel cap, which takes effect on 1 January 2020, including a template for implementation planning as requested by the industry. ICS also welcomes confirmation of the carriage ban of non-compliant fuel which will take effect on 1 March 2020, which was also proposed by the industry in order to give governments an additional tool to ensure a level playing field.
“The commitment of ICS to full implementation in 2020 is demonstrated by the guidance on preparing for compliance which ICS recently distributed to shipowners, which we tabled at the MEPC this week and was well received,” said Esben Poulsson.
“In view of the enormity of this major change it’s likely there’ll be some teething problems immediately before and after 1 January 2020. Many industry associations, including ICS, have raised legitimate concerns about fuel availability, safety and compatibility of new fuels – a particular problem for those in the tramp trades. But if shipowners can demonstrate in good faith that they’ve done everything possible to follow an implementation plan – in line with the template IMO has now adopted – we hope that common sense will prevail in the event that safe and compliant fuels are not immediately available everywhere.”
ICS says there are still numerous complex issues that need addressing urgently by IMO, both at the MEPC next May and by the Maritime Safety Committee in December – to which the industry has already submitted a detailed paper calling on governments to better enforce fuel quality, especially as shipping companies will have to start ordering compliant fuels, including new blends, from the middle of next year.
“But ICS is confident the sulphur cap will ultimately be a great success bringing real health and environmental benefits to coastal populations which is what this major regulatory change is all about,” insisted Mr Poulsson.