MEPC wraps, contentious issues pushed back for later in the year

The 76th gathering of the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) wrapped on Thursday, leaving plenty of key elements on shipping’s decarbonisation path to later meet-ups.

Key agreed legislation included the introduction of the technical requirement to reduce carbon intensity, based on a new Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI); and the operational carbon intensity reduction requirements, based on a new operational Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII).

Discussions on carbon taxes and a $5bn decarbonisation research and development fund were long, but eventually were pushed back to later in the year.

“The path to decarbonisation is a long, but also a common path in which we need to consider and respect each other’s views. We have made a considerable amount of progress since the start of our journey,” commented IMO secretary general, Kitack Lim, at the end of proceedings.

Simon Bergulf, Maersk’s regulatory affairs director, said the short-term measures adopted lack incentives for high performing vessels and thereby for low and zero carbon fuels.

“A carbon price as part of a global market-based measure is needed as a matter of urgency to secure the uptake of renewable fuels,” Bergulf said.

The IMO is well aware of the pressure it is now under to deliver more substantial green measures with both the US and the European Union going on the offensive.

In April, America’s new climate czar John Kerry said Washington would push to make sure shipping was a zero emissions industry by 2050, while Brussels is readying to add shipping to the EU carbon market, or emissions trading system (ETS).

Jytte Guteland, part of the European delegation at the IMO talks, said Brussels “gave the IMO all the opportunity and it was not taken”.

“The outcome of this conference must be a signal to the European Commission that they need to create a very strong ETS,” she told Reuters. “It is time for us to move forward.”

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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