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IMO sets new GHG targets and sets scene for sulfur cap implementation

IMO to set more stringent targets for carbon emissions from shipping. Credit: Shutterstock.

Continuing where it left off in the spring of 2018, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has moved the debate on greenhouse gas emissions from shipping a little further on while the finishing touches to the sulfur cap were also addressed.

Following the 74th Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting in May 2019 the IMO has resolved to revise phase three of the introduction of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI). EEDI is a complex formula that includes the fuel used, the speed traveled, and the amount of cargo carried as a measure of the efficiency of the vessel, but it only applies to new vessels.

Phase I has already been introduced; Beginning in 2015, new vessels were required to be 10 percent more efficient than the average vessel built between 2000 and 2010. In 2020 Phase II will be introduced, with a reduction of 15-20 percent compared to the baseline vessel, and Phase III, requiring a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions was due to be implemented by 2025. However, IMO is expected to bring forward the date for Phase III for many vessel types to 2022.

A decision on the new implementation date will be made at the next Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting in the spring of 2020. It will include amended reference lines for container ships to take into account their size and speed, because smaller container ships will have more difficulty cutting carbon emissions than larger vessels.

In addition, two intersessional meetings will take place before next year’s annual committee meeting to further consider methods by which shipping can improve on its operational energy efficiency, while also looking at ways to reduce methane slip (a problem with vessels powered by liquid natural gas, or LNG) and volatile organic compounds.

Carbon emission reductions by ship type and size

Gas carrier 15,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT) and above – 30 percent

Containership 200,000 DWT and above – 50 percent from 2022

Containership 120,000 and above but less than 200,000 DWT – 45 percent from 2022

Containership 80,000 and above but less than 120,000 DWT – 40 percent from 2022

Containership 40,000 and above but less than 80,000 DWT – 35 percent from 2022

Containership 15,000 and above but less than 40,000 DWT – 30 percent from 2022  

General cargo ship 15,000 DWT and above – 30 percent from 2022

LNG carrier 10,000 DWT and above – 30 percent from 2022

Reference lines for EEDI efficiencies are for average efficiencies of each ship type from 2000-2010

Meanwhile, the IMO committee also looked at the reporting on fuel quality and availability following the introduction of low sulfur fuel requirements, in which vessel fuel must not contain more than 0.5 percent sulfur, from 1 January 2020.

Data will be collected via the IMO’s Global Integrated Shipping Information System and results will be analyzed before the committee meets again in 2020. A correspondence group will also report on the workings of the information system for the purposes of the Sulfur Cap and suggest any modifications necessary.

Finally, the IMO has approved the terms of its fourth greenhouse gas study of emissions from the marine industry (the third study was released in 2014). The fourth study will begin in the autumn of 2019 and will be concluded the following year, with its results expected to be presented at the 76th session of the Marine Environmental Protection Committee in the autumn of 2020.

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