Europe – with the notable exception of Malta – held firm yesterday in discussions at the headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to put plans for a so-called experience-building phase to the impending global sulphur cap on hold.
The experience-building phase – the hot topic at the IMO this week – is not designed to push back the 2020 cap implementation date, its sponsors have stressed. The move is designed instead to be a data-gathering period to give greater transparency and detailed information on compliance for an unspecified period after January 1, 2020. The idea was co-sponsored by the Bahamas, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Panama, BIMCO, Intercargo and Intertanko, and has since gained strong support from the US.
After discussing the proposal on Tuesday and Wednesday Hideaki Saito, chairman of the IMO-convened 73rd gathering of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) said that there was no clear majority in favour of the proposal and that the best plan of action would be to better define what this experience-building phase would consititute. Saito said the proposal as it stood was confusing and vague. It remained unclear whether the proposal was now dead in the water, with IMO officials hinting that it could be revisited at the next MEPC meeting in May 2019.