IMO Scribe, Ki-Tack Lim

The International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) tentative step towards a plan to cut shipping’s climate emissions represents only ‘modest’ progress, Transport & Environment cited the Marshall Islands’ transport minister Mike Halferty.

Earlier this month, countries meeting at the IMO’s environment committee agreed to ‘headings’ to be included in a strategy, which itself will be the first step of a broader plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The details of each section are to be decided at a meeting in October, and a draft strategy agreed by 2018. However, the strategy will not be finalised until 2023.

The seven headings, or titles of each chapter of the strategy, cover the level of climate ambition and guiding principles for the shipping industry; possible measures for short, medium and long-term action; barriers to action, supportive measures and technical cooperation; and a plan for a review of the strategy.

Shipping is one of the fastest growing sources of transport emissions and is projected to account for 17% of global emissions by 2050. But, despite the IMO being first tasked with addressing ship GHG emissions by the Kyoto Protocol some 20 years ago, shipping is the only industry in the world not subject to climate measures.

“Disagreement over how to distribute efforts and the potential costs of measures remain the biggest obstacle to progress. On a positive note there was a strong delegation of Pacific Island nations. These countries, so vulnerable to climate change, are leading calls for an ambitious reduction target and urgent measures. In any case, as long as the IMO does not deliver a robust global deal to reduce shipping GHG, the inclusion of shipping in the EU ETS must remain on the table,” Bill Hemmings, T&E’s shipping director, said.

Meanwhile, a proposal to bring forward the target of improving the efficiency of new ships’ designs could be decided on next year. The IMO is being called on to advance the 2022 target date to 2025 following evidence that the current design efficiency standard, known as the EEDI, is too relaxed to drive ship efficiency.

“Making new ships more efficient saves both fuel and carbon emissions. It is a no brainer. But the current EEDI requirements are so weak that ships built in 2016 are actually becoming less efficient. If the IMO is serious about reducing shipping emissions the very first thing it should do is tighten the the EEDI requirements,” Faig Abbasov, T&E’s shipping officer, said.