IMO in the spotlight to adopt revised GHG strategy as MEPC 80 kicks off

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) – 80th session has opened at the International Maritime Organization (IMO).


After several months of negotiations, the MEPC 80 session is expected to adopt an upgraded IMO greenhouse gas strategy.

Specifically, the IMO GHG Strategy will contain concrete greenhouse gas reduction targets for the sector and is expected to outline a basket of technical and economic measures to be developed to set global shipping on an ambitious path towards phasing out greenhouse gas emissions.

Negotiations are well advanced and will continue during the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (ISWG-GHG 15) which met the week before MEPC 80.

It is anticipated that a working group will be established, during MEPC 80, to finalize the draft strategy, following plenary statements.

IMO is also accelerating its efforts in developing the necessary safety regulatory framework allowing the safe handling of future marine fuels on board ships.

MEPC 80 will focus on:

  • Tackling climate change – cutting GHG emissions from ships – Including adoption of the revised IMO GHG Strategy
  • Energy efficiency of ships
  • Ballast water management – including approval of the Convention Review Plan and adoption of amendments to the BWM Convention
  • Biofouling management – revised Guidelines
  • Designation of a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area
  • Underwater noise – revised guidelines 
  • Tackling marine litter 
  • Ship-to-ship transfer – proposed Assembly resolution
  • Special areas – effective date for the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden special areas under MARPOL Annexes I and V

New measures on the agenda

The MEPC 78 session had invited interested Member States and international organizations to collect relevant data in the early years of implementation of the CII rating system and to report relevant information to the committee ahead of the review. As requested by MEPC 79, an IMO Secretariat paper (MEPC 80/6/7) sets out, for consideration by the committee, how the review of the short-term measure could be conducted in an effective and efficient way.

To remind, MEPC 79 was held in December last year, with IMO failing to adopt a more ambitious 2050 target, even though a clear majority of IMO member states (32 countries) were in favour of setting a zero greenhouse gas emissions goal by 2050.

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Civil society groups, several countries as well as influential IMO observers—the World Bank, Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Centre, the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)—are also calling for an additional, ambitious absolute emission reduction target for 2030.

The revised strategy is expected to set out the way forward for possible technical and economic measures to be further developed by IMO.

New technologies and energy efficiency

The Committee is expected to consider and finalize draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI regarding the revision of the IMO ship fuel oil consumption Data Collection System (DCS).

The ISWG-GHG  14 session in March 2023 had discussed relevant proposals, noting broad support within the group for the inclusion of data on transport work and on enhanced level of granularity of reported data in the DCS. The group recommended that further consideration of proposed draft amendments to the DCS should be undertaken (with a view to finalization) by the Working Group on Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency, which is expected to be established during MEPC 80.

Furthermore, the MEPC is expected to consider the report of the Correspondence Group on Marine Fuel Life Cycle GHG Analysis, including draft guidelines on life cycle GHG intensity of marine fuels (LCA guidelines) for consideration and adoption. The draft LCA guidelines will allow for a Well-to-Wake calculation, including Well-to-Tank and Tank-to-Wake emission factors, of total GHG emissions related to the production and use of marine fuels.

Special attention will be given also to onboard carbon capture technology. The meeting will focus on the way forward to review the current regulatory framework and consider how to move forward to potentially accommodate onboard CO2 capture within IMO’s regulatory framework.

Moreover, the parties will also discuss the regulatory framework regarding ballast water and biofueling management.

Specifically, the MEPC is expected to approve the Convention Review Plan (CRP) under the experience‑building phase associated with the BWM Convention, including the list of priority issues to be considered in the convention review stage, which will guide the comprehensive review of the BWM Convention over the next three years and the corresponding development of a package of amendments to the convention.

In addition, MEPC is expected to adopt the revised guidelines for the control and management of ships’ biofouling to minimize the transfer of invasive aquatic species (Biofouling Guidelines), following a comprehensive review of the guidelines. 

“This is a historic moment in which all of you have a role to play. The 2023 IMO GHG Strategy will be your legacy, for which your children and grandchildren will be grateful. The time for IMO to demonstrate its global leadership is now,” IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said.

“The various updated proposals for technical and economic measures and the discussions during last week’s ISWG-GHG 15 clearly demonstrate your commitment to advance the developments of these measures which should ensure that IMO will deliver on the levels of ambition in the 2023 GHG Strategy.”

The MEPC 80 will take place from 3 until 7 July.

Follow more stories and updates on IMO’s new measures and targets on Offshore Energy – Green Marine.

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