The ‘A’ to ‘E’ operational efficiency rating of every ship above 5,000 gt will be made fully public and updated on an annual basis, according to the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). This rating system could be adopted as soon as IMO’s MEPC 75 meeting which starts on November 16, with further guidelines filled out at MEPC 76 next year.
“These ratings will be in the public domain and so visible to all,” an ICS spokesperson commented. “The exact mechanism is being finalised, although clearly the system won’t function unless the ratings are visible. With regards to when, we anticipate this will be done as part of the annual IMO DCS reporting and verification for fuel use.”
This would mark a decisive break from years of secrecy over ship efficiency and emissions data. The IMO’s Data Collection System, which entered into force in 2018, is anonymised to the extent that individual ships cannot be identified, and access to this anonymised data is restricted to “Parties to Annex VI only”, i.e. governments, not charterers.
Eventually, this information will need to become as visible as a Plimsoll line
Shippers disagreed with that decision at the time, arguing that greater transparency would allow them to favour more efficient vessels, unleashing market forces to incentivise shipowners to cut carbon emissions.
This week however, the Global Shippers’ Forum (GSF), representing 40 shipper organisations worldwide with many of the world’s largest retailers, auto manufacturers, chemical companies, and food and drink producers as members, welcomed signs of greater transparency at the IMO.
“Importing and exporting businesses with strong environmental principles and their own carbon-neutral targets will expect and demand full visibility of a vessel’s energy efficiency rating as the proposed IMO requirements take effect,” said James Hookham, secretary general of the GSF. “Eventually, this information will need to become as visible as a Plimsoll line.”
The news will also be welcomed by signatories to the new Sea Cargo Charter. International non-profit organisation, Global Maritime Forum, announced last month that a group of the world’s largest energy, agriculture, mining, and commodity trading companies will for the first time assess and disclose the climate alignment of their shipping activities via the new charter, something that will be made easier with open access to the A to E ratings.
Some countries at the IMO might still try to prevent ship efficiency ratings from becoming public however.
An IMO spokesperson clarified that in the current draft text resulting from October’s Intersessional Working Group, a ship’s statement of compliance will contain its efficiency rating. This is one of the certificates that ships should keep on board for inspection by port state control and other authorities, and the document itself is not public for security reasons.
For the IMO to actually publish each ship’s efficiency rating next to its IMO number on its GISIS system, it would need to be asked to do so by member states, and a specific requirement in a regulation requiring this information to be submitted to IMO.
“So far there is nothing in the regulation as drafted explicitly asking IMO to do this,” said the spokesperson. “If the member states ask the secretariat to publish the rating, then we would look into how this could be done.”