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Ship GHG emissions high on agenda at IMO environment meeting

Preview: Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) - 59th session: 13 - 17 July, 2009

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is expected to agree on a package of technical and operational measures to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) from international shipping and to hold an in-depth debate on possible market-based instruments to provide incentives for the shipping industry, when it meets for its 59th session from 13 to 17 July 2009, at the IMO Headquarters in London.

Other issues to be discussed include the adoption of amendments to the MARPOL Convention; and the implementation of MARPOL Annex VI, the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009, and the 2004 Ballast Water Management Convention.

Measures to address GHG from ships to be discussed
The MEPC will consider proposed technical and operational measures to reduce GHG emissions from ships. These include an Energy Efficiency Design Index for new ships, which is intended to stimulate innovation and technical development of all the elements influencing the energy efficiency of a ship from its design phase, and a Ship Energy Management Plan, for new and existing ships, which incorporates best practices for the fuel efficient operation of ships. The plan incorporates an Energy Efficiency Operational Indicator for new and existing ships, which enables operators to measure the fuel efficiency of a ship in operation.

These measures will form a package intended to be agreed at the meeting for further trials.

The Committee will also give further consideration to market-based measures, recognizing that technical and operational measures may not be sufficient to reduce the desired amount of GHG emissions from ships, if shipping activity increases as a consequence of growth in global trade. Such measures would have two main purposes: to offset growing emissions in other sectors; and to serve as an incentive for the industry to invest in more fuel-efficient technologies. The two market-based instruments that will be discussed at the MEPC are a maritime emission trading scheme and an international contribution fund for GHG Emissions from ships, based on a global contribution on marine bunkers.

One of the important documents on the MEPC's agenda will be the Second IMO GHG Study 2009, which provides the most comprehensive and authoritative figures on the impact of shipping on climate change. The Study estimates the reduction potential of different technologies and practices, as well as their cost effectiveness, and also evaluates the different policy options under consideration. The 2009 Study reaches a number of significant conclusions, including:

  • international shipping is estimated to have emitted, in 2007, 870 million tonnes, or about 2.7 per cent of the global manmade emissions of CO2;
  • mid-range emission scenarios suggest that, by 2050, in the absence of reduction policies, ship emissions may grow by 150 to 250 per cent (compared to 2007 emissions) as a result of growth in world trade; and
  • a significant potential for reduction of GHGs through technical and operational measures has been identified. Together, if all measures are implemented, including significant reduction in operational speed, they could, by 2050, increase efficiency and reduce the emissions rate very considerably below the current levels on a tonnes/mile basis.

The decisions of the MEPC on GHG emissions from ships will be reported to the Conference that the United Nations will convene in Copenhagen in December 2009, to debate a successor instrument to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

ECA proposal to be considered
A proposal to designate specific portions of the coastal waters of the United States and Canada as an Emission Control Area (ECA) will be considered by the MEPC. The ECA would be for the control of emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx), and particulate matter, under the revised MARPOL Annex VI Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships, which was adopted in October 2008 and is expected to come into force on 1 July 2010.

Currently, the revised Annex lists two ECAs: the Baltic Sea area and the North Sea, which includes the English Channel.

MARPOL Annex VI Guidelines set for adoption
MEPC 59 is expected to consider, with a view to adoption, draft Guidelines for the development of a volatile organic compound (VOC) management plan; revised Guidelines for monitoring the worldwide average of sulphur; and revised Guidelines for the sampling of fuel oil for determination of compliance with MARPOL Annex VI. The guidelines are intended to assist Administrations with the implementation of the revised Annex VI.

Based on input received by the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environment Protection (GESAMP), the Committee will consider Interim criteria for discharge of washwater from exhaust gas cleaning systems (exhaust scrubbers), intended to update the existing criteria contained in the Guidelines for Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (contained in resolution MEPC.170(57)).

The Committee is also expected to approve circulars on Guidelines for the application of the NOx Technical Code relative to certification and amendments of tier I engines and Definitions for the cost effectiveness formula in regulation 13.7.5 of the revised MARPOL Annex VI.

MARPOL amendments - transfer of oil cargo between oil tankers at sea
The MEPC will consider, for adoption, proposed draft amendments to MARPOL Annex I for the prevention of marine pollution during ship-to-ship (STS) oil transfer operations.

The new chapter 8 on Prevention of pollution during transfer of oil cargo between oil tankers at sea would apply to oil tankers of 150 gross tonnage and above and would require any oil tanker involved in oil cargo STS operations to have, on board, a plan prescribing how to conduct STS operations (the STS Plan), which would be approved by its Administration.

Notification to the relevant coastal State would be required, not less than 48 hours in advance of the scheduled STS operations. The proposed regulations are not intended to apply to bunkering operations.

Consequential amendments to the International Oil Pollution Prevention (IOPP) Certificate, the Supplement to the IOPP Certificate and the Oil Record Book will also be considered for adoption.

Oil residue (sludge) MARPOL amendments
Draft amendments to MARPOL Annex I regulations 1, 12, 13, 17 and 38, relating to the treatment of oil residue (sludge), will be considered for adoption. The proposed amendments are intended as clarification to long-standing requirements and to remove existing ambiguities in order to facilitate compliance. Definitions for oil residue (sludge), oil residue (sludge) tanks, oily bilge water and oily bilge water holding tanks are being introduced for the first time.

Related amendments to the Supplement to the IOPP Certificate, Form A and Form B, and the Oil Record Book are also being considered for adoption.

Special measures to protect the Antarctic to be considered for approval
The MEPC will consider, for approval, proposed draft amendments to MARPOL Annex I on Special requirements for the use or carriage of oils in the Antarctic area, with a view to subsequent adoption.

The proposed draft amendments would add a new chapter 9 with a new regulation 43, which would prohibit the carriage in bulk as cargo, or carriage and use as fuel, of: crude oils having a density at 15°C higher than 900 kg/m3; oils, other than crude oils, having a density at 15°C higher than 900 kg/m3 or a kinematic viscosity at 50°C higher than 180 mm2/s; or bitumen, tar and their emulsions. An exception is envisaged for vessels engaged in securing the safety of ships or in a search and rescue operation.

Development of guidelines to implement ship recycling convention
Following the adoption of the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, at a conference held in Hong Kong, China, in May 2009, the Committee will continue developing the Guidelines for safe and environmentally sound ship recycling and the Guidelines for the development of the inventory of hazardous materials. These are the first two guidelines intended to assist with the implementation of the Convention. Their development and early adoption are crucial for the voluntary implementation of the convention prior to its entry into force.

Implementation of the BWM convention
The MEPC will be invited to approve Guidance to ensure safe handling and storage of chemicals used to treat ballast water and the development of safety procedures for risks to the ship and crew resulting from the treatment process. This Guidance is intended to assist with the implementation of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention), adopted in 2004.

The MEPC is also expected to decide on proposals for "basic approval" and "final approval" of ballast water management systems that make use of active substances, after consideration of the reports of the eighth and ninth meetings of the GESAMP Ballast Water Working Group, which met in February and March 2009, respectively. The Working Group is recommending that basic approval be granted to three proposals and final approval to four.

The Ballast Water Review Group will meet during MEPC 59 to review the status of ballast water technologies and to advise the Committee on their availability, with regard to meeting the conditions in the BWM Convention.

To date, 18 States have ratified the BWM Convention, representing 15.36 per cent of the world's merchant shipping. The Convention will enter into force twelve months after the date on which not fewer than 30 States, the combined merchant fleets of which constitute not less than 35 percent of the gross tonnage of the world's merchant shipping, have become Parties to it. The Committee is expected to urge other States to ratify the Convention at the earliest opportunity.

Adverse impact of ship noise on marine life to be considered
The report of a correspondence group on Noise from commercial shipping and its adverse impact on marine life will be considered, with a view to the future development of voluntary technical guidelines for ship-quieting technologies. Potential navigational and operational practices to reduce noise will also be discussed.

Harmful anti-fouling systems for ships - best practices to be considered
The MEPC is expected to consider, with a view to disseminating via a circular, Guidance on best management practices for removal of anti fouling coatings from ships, including TBT hull paints, which was developed by the Scientific Groups under the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972 (London Convention) and its 1996 Protocol (London Protocol).

The International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships, 2001, entered into force in September 2008 and requires ships to either replace, or over-coat, any existing organotin-based anti fouling systems.

Joint MSC/MEPC Working Group on the Human Element to meet
The Joint MSC/MEPC Working Group on the Human Element will meet during MEPC 59 to consider human element issues, including proposed draft amendments to the Revised Guidelines on implementation of the International safety Management (ISM) Code, for submission to the IMO Assembly's 26th session in November-December 2009, for adoption.

OPRC-HNS implementation - manuals to be considered
The MEPC will be invited to consider the report of the ninth meeting of the OPRC HNS Technical Group, which is being held in the week prior to the Committee's session and will consider a draft Manual on chemical pollution to address legal and administrative aspects of HNS incidents; a Manual on oil pollution, Section I - Prevention; a Manual on incident command system during oil spill response; and Guidelines for oil spill response in fast currents.

The Committee is expected to approve the draft texts of two introductory IMO model courses on preparedness for and response to HNS pollution incidents in the marine environment, one aimed at the operational level and the second aimed at management level; the revised OPRC Train-the-Trainer course; and the draft text of a Guidance document on the identification and observation of spilled oil.

Briefing 26,9 July 2009

For further information please contact:
Lee Adamson, Head, Public Information Services on 020 7587 3153 ( )
Natasha Brown, External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3274 (


Please see International Maritime Organization (IMO) company electronic office

For further information please contact:
Head, Public Information Services
Lee Adamson
Tel: +44 (0)20 7587 3153

Media and Communications Officer
Natasha Brown
Tel: +44 (0)20 7587 3274

IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

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