The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 80) achieved a significant milestone in maritime environmental protection when they adopted the 2023 IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships in July 2023.
This revised strategy includes ambitious targets to achieve net-zero GHG emissions from international shipping by around 2050 and commitments to adopt alternative zero and near-zero GHG fuels by 2030.
Key Highlights from the MEPC 80 Session
- Tackling Climate Change with Enhanced GHG Strategy
The MEPC 80 session’s adoption of the 2023 IMO GHG Strategy is a response to the urgent need to address climate change. The strategy outlines a clear path to cut GHG emissions from ships, with interim targets for 2030 and 2040.
- Life Cycle GHG Assessment Guidelines
The MEPC adopted guidelines for the life cycle GHG intensity of marine fuels, allowing for a comprehensive calculation of total GHG emissions related to the production and use of marine fuels.
- Interim Guidance on Biofuels
The Committee approved interim guidance on the use of biofuels, aiming to align with regulations of MARPOL Annex VI and address the carbon intensity indicator (CII) and energy efficiency existing ship index (EEXI).
- Onboard CO2 Capture
Consideration was given to onboard CO2 capture technologies, with the Committee instructing the upcoming Intersessional Working Group to review proposals related to onboard carbon capture technology.
- Enhancing Energy Efficiency
Draft amendments to the Data Collection System (DCS) under MARPOL Annex VI were approved, focusing on revising the IMO ship fuel oil consumption database.
- Ballast Water Management
The Committee approved the Convention Review Plan (CRP) under the BWM Convention and adopted amendments related to ballast water record book forms, expected to enter into force in 2025.
- Biofouling Management
Revised guidelines for the control and management of ships’ biofouling were adopted, aiming to minimize the transfer of invasive aquatic species and improve fuel efficiency through better hull cleaning practices.
- Protecting Cetaceans in the North-Western Mediterranean
A Particularly Sensitive Sea Area was designated in the North-Western Mediterranean to protect cetaceans, with recommendatory measures for mariners to navigate cautiously and report any collisions with cetaceans.
- Underwater Noise Reduction
Revised guidelines for the reduction of underwater noise from commercial shipping were approved, recognizing the adverse impacts of such noise on marine life.
- Addressing Marine Litter
Efforts to tackle marine litter, specifically the carriage of plastic pellets and the reporting of lost containers, were discussed, with plans for developing mandatory measures.
- Ship-to-Ship Transfers
The Committee discussed the environmental risks associated with ship-to-ship transfers and proposed a draft Assembly resolution to encourage action and enhanced monitoring.
- Special Areas Designation
The Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden were designated as special areas under MARPOL Annexes I and V, effective from 1 January 2025.
- Other Measures
The MEPC also addressed various other matters, including the revision of guidelines for hazardous materials, guidelines for thermal waste treatment devices, and the reduction of volatile organic compound emissions.
The MEPC 80 session’s outcomes demonstrate the IMO’s continued commitment to addressing environmental challenges in the maritime sector, with a focus on reducing GHG emissions, enhancing energy efficiency, and protecting marine biodiversity.
The session marks a pivotal step in the journey towards a more sustainable and environmentally responsible shipping industry.