IMO MEPC 81 proposes new Chapter 5 of MARPOL Annex VI




IMO MEPC 81, that took place March 18-22, agreed on an illustration of a possible draft outline of an “IMO net-zero framework” for cutting greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from international shipping.

The draft outline illustration lists regulations under the (MARPOL, which will be adopted or amended to allow for a new global fuel standard and a new global pricing mechanism for maritime GHG emissions.

IMO said that this decision marks a step forward in the legal process towards adopting global regulations, referred to as “mid-term GHG reduction measures”, that will help achieve the targets contained in the 2023 IMO Strategy on the Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships.

The IMO Secretary -General Arsenio Dominguez expressed his satisfaction with progress made during the Committee and the possible draft outline of an “IMO net-zero framework” which will include a proposed new Chapter 5 of MARPOL Annex VI containing regulations on the IMO net-zero framework, to feature:

a goal-based marine fuel standard regulating the phased reduction of the marine fuel’s GHG intensity; and an economic mechanism(s) to incentivize the transition to net-zero.

The goal-based marine fuel standard and pricing mechanism are mid-term GHG reduction measures specified in the revised IMO Strategy on the Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships, adopted in July 2023. Several different proposals of what these measures should entail are currently being considered.

The possible draft outline for the IMO net-zero framework will be used as a starting point to consolidate the different proposals into a possible common structure, to support further discussions with the understanding that this outline would not prejudge any possible future changes to it as deliberations progress.

What’s next – issues for MEPC 82

In addition to progress on the legal framework, MEPC agreed on the following next steps, ahead of its next meeting (MEPC 82), scheduled for 30 September to 4 October 2024:

Comprehensive impact assessment on the impact of the proposed mid-term measures on Member States to be finalized and submitted to MEPC 82;

A two-day expert workshop (Fifth GHG Expert Workshop – GHG-EW 5) to be held to discuss the preliminary findings of the comprehensive impact assessment, covering all aspects, including the modelling of revenue disbursement. The outcome will be reported to MEPC 82;

The Seventeenth Intersessional Working Group on Greenhouse Gas Emissions (ISWG-GHG 17) to meet to consider the outcomes of the comprehensive impact assessment, the GHG-EW5, and other submitted documents for further discussions around the development of mid-term measures, and report to MEPC 82;

ISWG-GHG 17 to develop draft terms of reference for a Fifth IMO GHG Study;

Establishment of a GESAMP Working Group on the Life Cycle GHG Intensity of Marine Fuels. GESAMP is the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection. The GESAMP-LCA WG will be tasked to provide best possible scientific and technical assessment of issues related to the implementation of the LCA Guidelines. These guidelines allow for the calculation of GHG emissions over the full production cycle and end-use of marine fuels, known as “well-to-wake”.

Two correspondence group have been established which will report to MEPC 83: the first group is tasked to develop a work plan on the development of a regulatory framework for the use of onboard carbon capture systems and to look into Tank-to Wake methane and nitrous oxide emissions; the second group will look into social and economic sustainability themes and aspects of marine fuels for possible inclusion in the LCA Guidelines.

MEPC also adopted revised Guidelines on life cycle GHG intensity of marine fuels (LCA Guidelines) and approved the establishment of two new Emission Control Areas (ECAs), in Canadian Arctic Waters, for Nitrogen Oxides, Sulphur Oxides and Particulate Matter; and in the Norwegian Sea for Nitrogen Oxide and Sulphur Oxides. These will be submitted to MEPC 82 for adoption.

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