By Barry Parker

The highly anticipated meeting of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Maritime Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC), officially MEPC 76, began its first two days of sessions this week before taking a weekend break.

Most of the MEPC 76’s maritime community attention is focused on the state of offers Amendments to Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention dealing with the energy efficiency of ships and the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in ships. The meeting will continue next week from June 14e although the 17e.

At the end of May, an intersessional working group had developed proposals for guidelines on technical requirements for reducing carbon intensity, based on the new energy efficiency index for existing ships (EEXI), had also set out the proposed operational requirements. reduction in carbon intensity (based on a new carbon intensity indicator, or CII- with its rating scale “A” to “E”). Both are part of an “early stage” action plan that would allow shipping to reduce ITCs by at least 40% by 2030, a necessity for the longer-term goal of reducing emissions. annual total GHG emissions from international maritime transport of at least 50%. by 2050 (compared to 2008).

The first day saw an opening speech by IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim, from which he borrowed a phrase, famously spoken in preparation for the rescue of astronauts fifty years ago. He told everyone that “failure is not an option” in IMO’s efforts to agree on measures that would begin the shipping journey through 2030 – the main topic of MEPC 76 and the next steps – as IMO begins to chart the way forward. 2050.

During the first session, following Mr. Lim’s remarks, a document on GHG reduction, prepared at the end of 2020 following the MEPC 75, with draft amendments to Annex VI of MARPOL (the part dealing with air, engine and fuel quality) – including details on EEXI calculations and initial CII ratings, was discussed. With some modifications, it has been forwarded to the group which will draft the current wording which, after final approval, will be inserted into the Convention. The group agreed that the entry into force of the current changes to Annex VI would be November 1, 2022, while the effective date of the current rules remains January 1, 2023.

Much of the activity on Day 2 focused on the all-important process of adjusting and re-examining concerns about the varying effects of new measures on different countries, with a focus on Least Developed Countries (LDCs). ) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). . Implicit in these discussions was the fact that the IMO studies on the impacts of the proposed rules were carried out very quickly, and during periods of volatile shipping market conditions due to the pandemic situation of 2020. Although the IMO follows diplomatic protocols, true maritime transport is infused into procedures. Slow steam, which reduces vessel tonne-miles (part of CII calculations) and actual carbon emissions due to reduced engine power (part of EEXI) featured prominently in the discussions. For example, the delegation of Chile, an exporter of copper concentrates, expressed concern about the impacts of longer voyages as ships adapt their operational practices.

Discussions on the nature of the review and adjustment process, especially whether LDCs and SIDS that have had a negative impact, or countries with particular trade patterns (think isolated islands, for example), might gain exemptions from the new regulations from day one. An alternative approach to the study suggested that a subsequent review of the initial stages by the MEPC, in 2023, closely examine “lessons learned” and then consider further action, when disproportionately harmful impacts on some countries, if any. , were observed and documented. These could be assessed and addressed by the MEPC, with possible revisions, in 2026.

The discussion of the second day (Friday) will continue on Monday, June 14e. Due to ongoing travel restrictions, these meetings, like other IMO “gatherings” over the past 15 months, are being held as a virtual conference. With delegates attending from distant time zones, daily meetings last three hours – held at the optimum time of late morning UK time.

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