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SSI Remains Cautiously Optimistic on IMO GHG Action

The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) has said that it remains cautiously optimistic on progression made by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to tackle greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction from international shipping during the 70th session of its Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting, held last week in London.

The shipping regulator has decided that initial CO2 reduction commitments will be agreed by 2018, and that a full GHG emission ‘Road Map’ will be developed in 2023. It’s a move that has been applauded by some and spurned by others.

A number of NGOs have particularly slated the lack of timely action. The fact that the IMO has dodged action on more stringent ship design efficiency requirements has also come under fire. However, some industry bodies have welcomed the action, including the Intentional Chamber of Shipping (ICS).

Whilst the agreement of a Road Map to develop strategy for reducing Shipping’s GHG emissions by 2023 represents progress, the SSI say that it is imperative that follow up progression is made in the build up to the next session of MEPC (MEPC71, in May 2017) and at the IMO’s intercessional working group meeting on GHG emissions taking place during the preceding week.

The NGO believes that a critical assessment of the future predicted demand for shipping in line with global economic growth, a detailed cost-benefit analysis, as well as an understanding of current and future capabilities for emissions reduction is required. This would enable IMO and member states to agree an appropriate ‘level of ambition’ and a fair playing field for the industry that will see shipping fairly and effectively contribute to achieving the below 2-degrees warming targets agreed at COP21 in December 2015.

“The development of a GHG emissions reduction roadmap to 2023, and the adoption of an initial strategy with short, medium and long-term measures in 2018 is a positive step forwards for the shipping industry,” said Ian Petty, General Manager, the Sustainable Shipping Initiative.

“However, significant work still needs to be conducted to maintain momentum and enable the industry to agree on the level of ambition for emissions reduction,” he said.

Petty concluded: “We must be under no illusions that while defining a roadmap is progress, the challenge to reduce shipping’s impact on climate change remains significant. There can be no stalling or derailing of plans. The industry must now continue to work together with purpose and urgency to put in place the elements that will define its contribution to global emissions reduction, so that the real process for action and implementation can begin.”

Hand in hand with the Road Map development is the mandatory global CO2 data collection system that was agreed at MEPC 69. This system will enable the initial CO2 commitments agreed in 2018 by the IMO to be further refined based upon actual ship emission data and transport work that will become available from 2019.

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