Fuel(s) for thought – a decade of IMO mandatory rules
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) marks a turbulent 10-year period of action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions from shipping with the latest measures being adopted at IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 76).
Decarbonization has become one of the greatest challenges for the shipping industry. The industry players are trying to find solutions to reach decarbonization goals and be a part of the global fight against climate change.
One of the key steps of the journey started on 15 July 2011, when MARPOL Annex VI Parties adopted mandatory energy efficiency regulations for ships – Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships, Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for all ships.
The MEPC developed operational and technical measures and IMO agreed to include a new chapter on “energy efficiency” in MARPOL Annex VI.
Since their adoption, further amendments have been added to strengthen the EEDI requirements, particularly for certain ship types.
In April 2018, IMO adopted the Initial Strategy on the reduction of GHG emissions from shipping, a policy framework that sets key ambitions, including annual greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping by at least half by 2050, compared with their level in 2008.
The measures add to the energy efficiency regulations for new vessels aimed at cutting the carbon intensity of international shipping by 40% by 2030 compared with 2008 levels.
Since then, the industry heavyweights have urged the shipping industry to reach zero emissions by 2050, and to get there, zero-emission ships must become the dominant and competitive choice by 2030.
The industry majors, including Maersk, Torvald Klaveness Group, Trafigura and others, noted that in order to make the transition happen, the industry needs policies and regulations that would bridge the gap between affordable, widely available fossil fuels and more expensive, zero-emission fuels.
After adopting new short-term regulations at MEPC 76 on 17 June 2021, IMO’s measures targeting a 1.5 % annual ship CO2 intensity cut between 2023-2026 faced backlash as too weak.
Meanwhile, the European Commission has proposed to extend the scope of the EU’s Emissions Trading System to cover CO2 emissions from ships in a new climate plan.
Under the proposal, the EU ETS would cover around two-thirds of maritime transport emissions — 90 million tonnes CO2 — and result in a price signal that incentivizes improvements in energy efficiency and low-carbon solutions and reduces the price difference between alternative fuels and traditional maritime fuels.