During the 74th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 74) and the 5th Intersessional Working Group (ISWG) on Greenhouse Gases (GHG) a week in advance of MEPC 74, the following topics were considered and progressed:Impact Assessment procedure
The Impact Assessment (IA) procedure which works under a four-step process, consisting of initial assessment, submission of commenting documents, comprehensive impact assessment and review of impacts once the measure has been adopted and enacted, was finalised and approved by MEPC 74.Terms of reference for Fourth GHG study
Following the expert review meeting in March 2019, the two items that were left for the ISWG to consider were the inclusion of black carbon and estimations of the 2008 carbon intensity. Both are now included in the study.Short-term measures
In light of a large number of proposals for short-term measures, the ISWG focused on how to consider, organise and streamline (as opposed to “prioritise”) the proposals. Following lengthy debates, it was agreed that with regards to short-term measures, the next ISWG would consider concrete proposals to improve the ‘operational energy efficiency of existing ships’, to reduce methane slip and VOC emissions and to encourage the uptake of alternative low- and zero-carbon fuels including the development of lifecycle GHG/carbon intensity guidelines for all relevant types of fuels and incentive schemes. It was further agreed to consider the development of further actions on capacity-building, technical cooperation and research & development, to consider a draft MEPC resolution, to develop and update a voluntary National Action Plan, and to reflect on other concrete proposals for candidate measures.Mid and long-term measures
While not much progress was made on this topic, some discussions on whether work on mid and long-term measures should start before 2023 took place. The proposal found enough support for work to continue running in parallel to short-term measures.Cooperation with ports to reduce emissions from shipping
MEPC 74 adopted resolution on ‘Invitation to Member States to encourage voluntary cooperation between the port and shipping sectors to contribute to reducing GHG emissions from ships’.A multi-donor trust fund for GHG
MEPC 74 agreed to establish a voluntary multi-donor trust fund to provide a dedicated source of financial support for technical cooperation and capacity-building activities to support the implementation of the Initial IMO Strategy.GreenVoyage-2050 project
In the context of capacity building and technical cooperation, it is worth noting that during MEPC 74, the IMO-Norway GreenVoyage-2050 project was launched to respond to the need to provide technical assistance to Member States, to support technology transfer and to promote green technology uptake to improve energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions throughout the maritime sector.
The IMarEST participated in the discussions by offering technical expertise and sharing impartial scientifically based advice.
Amongst others, the IMarEST delegation commented that LNG as a GHG reduction solution would be ambiguous at best and could even increase GHG emissions depending on methane slip in the operation or supply chain.
Regarding life cycle emissions, the IMarEST representative commented that it would theoretically make sense to have a database of life cycle emissions. However, there are known unintended consequences of moving emissions from sea to land. The IMarEST further raised the concern that some scenarios looking at future production, as well as current production, would need to be considered. Taking the example of hydrogen, most of its production is currently made by using natural gas. In the future, it could be made with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) or electrolysis and therefore some scenario components need to be included.
When the discussion focused on the impacts on States, the IMarEST intervened to agree with other delegations that there are at least two positive impacts on States, one related to trade and another associated with potential transport cost reductions if a short-term measure removes a known market barrier or failure as mentioned in IMarEST submission ISWG GHG 1/2/10.
A further comment related to operational measures and in particular the speed of ships and how significant that is for the reduction of GHG emissions pointed out that the Third IMO GHG Study acknowledges that. Much of the observed reduction in emissions between 2007 and 2012 has been attributed to ship speed reduction. The study further expressed a major risk to shipping’s future GHG emissions that emission reductions achieved by historic slow steaming trends are not guaranteed for the long-term and there is the risk of inciting rapid increases in GHG emissions from shipping in the future.
The EC funded study on short term measures is consistent with this evidence, showing scenarios where fleet average speeds are lower, that there is a reduction of GHG by 2030 relative to business as usual. However, the IMarEST does not think this reduction in GHG emission means that speed needs to be limited directly.
There are three basic ways to address the important speed issue, by speed measures (including measures that reduce and optimise speed), by goal-based measures using an operational efficiency metric and by measures that employ shaft power limits. In conclusion, it is the IMarEST’s opinion that all three options need to be retained and progressed with utmost urgency if we want to be effective at implementing the objectives of the Initial Strategy.
Lastly, the IMarEST shared the view that what matters in achieving GHG emission reduction is the ship’s operational efficiency (what happens in practice), not just the technical efficiency which is measured in a hypothetical or idealised situation and does not necessarily reflect what happens in practice.
With that in mind, there could be technical efficiency measures designed in such a way that they are effective at reducing operational efficiency. Therefore the IMarEST objected on the suggestion of removing the wording ‘operational risks’ from the original text. The point made was that the focus shouldn’t just be on operational energy policy measures but to be also inclusive of those technical energy efficiency measures which could be effective on improving operational efficiency overall.
IMarEST future engagement
The IMarEST will remain involved within the ISWGs and will participate in the forthcoming discussions.
Some recommendations for future work is to consider progressing previous work done using AIS to estimate emissions from routes (ISWG-GHG 3-2-11) with focus on countries that may face negatively disproportionate impacts from candidate short-term measures e.g. Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and to consider submitting a paper on the need for new fuels and implications for mid- and long-term measures.
There has been an invitation for further submissions reporting studies on low- and zero-carbon fuels/energy and addressing a number of key questions such as which fuel options can most efficiently achieve the IMO’s levels of ambition; which policies can cost-effectively incentivise the adoption of these fuels; which policies can help assist with the development both of infrastructure and supply chain, as well as fleet modification; and how can the transition in various economies be supported, including developing countries and particularly SIDS and Least Developed Countries.
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