MEPC gets underway

The headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London plays host this week to the crucial 77th gathering of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) where shipping will get a closer understanding of its long term green targets.

Following on from the United Nations’ COP26 climate summit earlier this month, IMO delegates will debate tightening emissions targets from the existing 50% cut by 2050 with many nations now demanding shipping becomes a zero-emissions industry within the next 29 years.

There will also be plenty of discussion on carbon pricing including the International Chamber of Shipping’s proposal of a $2 a ton levy on fuel oil to raise $5bn for decarbonisation research and development.

For Dr Tristan Smith, associate professor at UCL Energy Institute, the Dhaka-Glasgow Declaration, signed at COP26 this month could prove very signifiant at this week’s MEPC. The declaration outlines the demands of more than 50 climate vulnerable nations from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East, and the Pacific.

“The potential is now clear to fundamentally change the arithmetic at the IMO,” Smith suggested in conversation with Splash earlier this month.

Low ambition outcomes from MEPC 75 and 76 were the result of ambitious countries being in the minority, Smith argued, but at MEPC 76 only about five countries were the difference between minority and majority.

“You don’t need many of these 50 signatories to turn up to get fundamentally different outcomes in mid-term measures and strategy revision debates,” Smith said.

Johannah Christensen, CEO of the Global Maritime Forum, a not-for-profit organisation that has helped coordinate many green shipping initiatives in recent years, also asked how many of the countries that she described as “shipping climate heroes” during COP26 would deliver change at MEPC77.

Splash will be bringing readers regular updates from MEPC77 this week.

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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