The virtual gathering of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) closed on Friday with the big takeaways being the creation of an emissions control area (ECA) in the Mediterranean and the dismissal of the International Chamber of Shipping’s (ICS) plans for $5bn decarbonisation research and development fund.
In terms of revising IMO’s green targets and introducing market-based measures, two topics discussed at length during the week, both items are now likely to be approved at MEPC 80 in 2023.
The Mediterranean will now see a sulphur ECA come into force in 2024, something campaigners have been pushing for over the past decade.
Guy Platten, ICS secretary general, said he was disappointed that member states had kicked in to touch his organisation’s plans for a $5bn decarbonisation R&D fund.
“By refusing to take forward the shipping industry’s proposed research and development fund, the IMO has wasted its opportunity to kick start a rapid transition to zero-carbon technologies which will be vital if we are to decarbonise completely by 2050,” Platten said.
Platten hit out at what he described as “short-sighted political manoeuvring” which has led to the proposal in effect being killed.
On the IMO’s current climate strategy revision, 45 delegates spoke in favour of the 2050 zero shipping emissions target last week, including the Cook Islands, Mexico, Myanmar, Colombia and Malaysia, which endorsed this level of ambition for the first time. This brings the total number of IMO states supportive of the 2050 goal to 50 so far.
Dan Hubbell from the Ocean Conservancy NGO commented today: “After last week, it’s clear that most states support reaching zero shipping emissions by 2050. That’s an excellent start, but we can already see the usual suspects at the IMO try to delay and obstruct real, meaningful action any way they can.”
Delegates will return to the discussion on strategy revision at MEPC 79 in December, with working group talks to be held beforehand.
Delegates also moved forward with a basket of mid-term measures to bring down emissions from shipping, including proposals for a carbon levy and a fuel standard.
Dr Tristan Smith, director of consultancy UMAS, commented: “IMO continues to be on track for MEPC 80 in summer 2023 to be a key point at which direction, targets, GHG emissions framing and policy, including GHG pricing, will clarify. The momentum is building for a significant strengthening of ambition and policy action, which will then affect opportunities risks and values in the sector including in this decade.”