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Proposed GHG amendments to MARPOL convention circulated for adoption in 2011, as IMO heads to Cancún climate change conference

Nov. 25, 2010 - The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has circulated proposed draft regulations to make mandatory technical and operational measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from international shipping, following a request by a number of States Parties to Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution by Ships (MARPOL) to circulate the draft text.  

The circulation of the proposed amendments to all 169 IMO Member States and three Associate Members comes as the Organization prepares to participate in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancún, Mexico (COP 16/CMP 6), where it will seek to ensure that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Parties continue to entrust IMO, which is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for safety and security at sea and protecting the environment from any negative impact that may derive from shipping, with developing and enacting global regulations to control GHG emissions from ships engaged in international trade.  

Proposed MARPOL amendments
Under the terms of the amendment procedure set out in the MARPOL Convention, the proposed amendments will now be considered for adoption at the next session of the Organization's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), which meets in July 2011.  

Once adopted, the regulations would represent the first ever mandatory efficiency standard for an international transport sector, paving the way for significant reductions in emissions from shipping into the foreseeable future. The proposed amendments to MARPOL Annex VI - Regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships, would make mandatory, for new ships, the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP), both of which have been previously disseminated by IMO for voluntary use.  

The EEDI is a non-prescriptive, performance-based mechanism that leaves the choice of technologies to use in a specific ship design to the industry. As long as the required energy-efficiency level is attained, ship designers and builders would be free to use the most cost-efficient solutions for the ship to comply with the regulations.  

The SEEMP establishes a mechanism for a shipping company and/or a ship to improve the energy efficiency of ship operations.  

The request to circulate the proposed amendments followed the last session of the MEPC in October 2010 (MEPC 61), at which the Committee made progress on all three elements of its work to reduce GHG emissions from international shipping, namely technical, operational and market-based measures, following a work plan to address GHG emissions from ships which began in 2003.  

The request to circulate the proposed draft amendments with a view to their eventual adoption, was submitted by a group of States Parties to MARPOL Annex VI, which has a total of 62 Parties, representing 84.93 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage.  

IMO at COP 16/CMP 6
IMO will provide the UNFCCC Conference with updated information on its GHG work through official submissions, outreach activities, an exhibition booth and at side events and also through the UN system activities planned throughout the 2-week event. The IMO delegation will be headed by the Secretary-General, Mr. Efthimios Mitropoulos.  

IMO's main objectives for the Conference are that:   

  - the Organization continues to be entrusted with the development and enactment of global regulations on the control of GHG emissions from ships engaged in international trade; 

  - the regulations are made applicable to all ships according to the non-discriminatory principle on which the IMO regulatory framework is based; and 

  - the interests of developing countries are fully taken into account, through IMO's Integrated Technical Co-operation Programme and by distribution of revenues generated by a market-based instrument for international shipping, to be developed under the auspices of IMO.

The full text of IMO's submissions to COP 16/CMP 6 can be downloaded at


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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