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Japan’s engine power limitation plans gain widespread support ahead of MEPC

A host of shipping’s most powerful states and associations have come round to support Japan’s controversial ship power limiting proposals as the best bet for the industry to enact short-term emissions cutting commitments, with the International Maritime Organization set to debate the topic in the next month.

Panama, Norway, Greece, Intertanko, Bimco and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) are among those who have decided to co-sponsor Japan’s Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) idea, which Bimco describes as being much like the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) which is mandatory for new ships.

The new short-term measure on engine or shaft power limitation requires existing ships to comply with an EEXI limit, if adopted by IMO. The Japanese proposal has not been universally welcomed however, with questions raised as to whether it is stringent enough.

“The proposal offers a simplified way to comply by using estimated speed/power curves and power limitation,” Bimco stated in a release.

The proposal is being submitted to the intersessional working group on greenhouse gas reductions which will meet in the week preceding the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) session in March at the London headquarters of the IMO.

Bimco stated the proposal’s aim is to require the existing fleet to operate at an efficiency level which is on par with that for new ships entering the fleet.

“Meeting the IMO 2030 target for CO2 emission per transport work, which is an improvement over 2008 of at least 40%, requires contribution from all sectors of international shipping – including existing ships,” Bimco explained.

The Japanese EEXI proposal has taken flak this month however. The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) published a highly critical report of the engine power limitation (EPL) plans 10 days ago.

The ICCT study used 2018 AIS data to estimate what levels of EPL stringency would be needed to reduce actual fuel use. The study evaluated various levels of EPL, ranging from 10% up to a maximum of 60%, and then related those to IMO’s 2030 CO2 objective. Japan’s EEXI proposal implies EPLs of about 20% for most ships in 2018, according to the ICCT.

The report concluded that only substantial – 50+% – EPLs would materially reduce CO2 from the existing fleet. The maximum scenario investigated, 60%, would reduce emissions by about 6%.

“The analysis implies that the Japanese proposal would not reduce CO2 emissions below business as usual because the implied speed limit is faster than ships are currently operating due to slow steaming. Thus, there is a high probability that the EEXI would lead to ‘paper’ reductions in emissions that would not be seen under real conditions,” the study concluded.

Splash will be bringing readers extensive coverage from next month’s MEPC gathering in London.

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Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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