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14 October 2008

IMO Environment Committee Makes Progress on Emissions Regulations for Ships

Major progress on air pollution, ship recycling and ballast water management at IMO environment meeting 13 October 2008: The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) held its 58th session from 6-10 October 2008, in London, UK. The Committee maintained momentum in limiting or reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships, and made substantive progress in developing technical and operational measures to address these emissions.

The Committee approved the use of the draft Interim Guidelines on the method of calculation of the Energy Efficiency Design Index for new ships, for calculation/trial purposes with a view to further refinement and improvement. The MEPC also held a discussion on market-based measures, and agreed to further discuss such measures at its next session. For its deliberations, the Committee considered information on Phase 1 of the updating of the 2000 IMO Study on GHG emissions from ships, which estimates emissions of carbon dioxide from international shipping both from activity data and from international fuel statistics. The Committee’s work in this area will be pursued at an intersessional meeting early in 2009, for presentation to MEPC59 in July 2009.

The outcome of MEPC59 will be presented to the UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December 2009. The Committee also discussed whether the measures to reduce or limit GHG emissions from ships should be mandatory or voluntary for all States. Several delegations favored the application of the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, and therefore the application of any mandatory regime aimed at reducing GHG emissions from ships to Annex I countries.

However, several others referred to the IMO’s global mandate as regards the safety of ships and the protection of the marine environment from ship emissions, and argued that the IMO regulatory framework on GHG should be applicable to all ships, irrespective of the flags they fly. Some highlighted that three-quarters of the world’s merchant fleet fly the flag of non-Annex I countries and that any regulatory regime on GHGs from shipping would be ineffective if it were only applied to Annex I countries. [IMO Press Release]


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