ICS and Liberia commend MEPC on environmental issues

Jul 14 2017

Commenting on the outcome of MEPC 71, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) said it was pleased with the progress made on a number of critical environmental regulatory issues.

The IMO has made a good start on the development of a CO2 reduction strategy, the ICS said, which it is confident will match the ambition of the Paris Agreement on climate change and that significant progress was made on the general outline of an initial strategy for adoption in 2018. 

ICS Director of Policy, Simon Bennett, said; “Though no detailed decisions have yet been taken by IMO, the industry’s specific proposals have been well received by a number of governments among both developed and developing nations, and there is generally willingness on all sides to give these further consideration at the next IMO working group on the strategy in October.”    

In a submission to last week’s MEPC meeting made by ICS and other shipping associations, the industry proposed that IMO should adopt a number of CO2 reduction objectives on behalf of the international shipping sector, while emphasising that the delivery of truly ambitious CO2 reductions will be dependent on the development of alternative fossil-free fuels.  

Specifically, the industry proposed that the sector’s total CO2 emissions should not increase above 2008 levels, thus establishing 2008 as the year of peak emissions from shipping, and that IMO should agree upon a percentage by which the total emissions from the sector might reduce by 2050.

“Encouragingly, there seems to be a general understanding among nearly all IMO Member States that IMO needs to adopt a truly ambitious strategy if it is to remain in control of regulating CO2 from ships, so that the application of unilateral measures, such as the proposed incorporation of international shipping into the EU Emissions Trading System and the resultant market distortion, will be unnecessary,” Bennett said.

ICS also welcomed the IMO decision to adjust the implementation dates of the BWMC so that existing ships, delivered before its entry into force on 8th September this year, will not be required to install treatment systems until after their first IOPP survey after 8th September, 2019.

Bennett commented “This is a victory for common sense that will allow shipping companies to identify and invest in far more robust technology to the benefit of the environment.”  

ICS said that existing ships will now be able to install equipment typed–approved in accordance with the more stringent standards that IMO adopted in 2016. The industry should therefore have greater confidence that the systems ships are required to install will indeed be fit for purpose in all operating conditions worldwide, which was not the case with several of the systems approved using the old IMO guidelines.   

“The process leading up to the entry into the force of the Ballast Convention has been difficult and fraught” said Bennett. “But as a result of last week’s decision by IMO the industry now has the clarity it needs to get on with the job and make the global implementation of this important piece of legislation a success.”

The Liberian Maritime Administration also welcomed the agreement on an implementation schedule for BWMC, which broadly incorporated the terms of an amendment initially proposed by Liberia.

What is effectively a two-year deferral on the implementation schedule for existing ships will be incorporated in the BWMC as new Regulation B-3, which sets out the time frame for when ships should install a BWMS. 

The wording in Paragraph 10, meanwhile, reflects the desire by IMO member states to limit any further decoupling of the MARPOL Annex I IOPP certificate from other convention certificates before the 8th September, 2019 cut-off date.

Alfonso Castillero, Liberian International Ship &Corporate Registry (LISCR) COO, the US-based manager of the Liberian Registry, said, “We want to thank the industry and all member states for the key role they played in securing this agreement. Liberia was one of the first administrations to ratify the convention, and is entirely committed to its effective and smooth implementation. But the existence of important practical and technical considerations compelled it to seek the support of other stakeholders in securing an equitable implementation date for the BWM Convention.

“Liberia began proposing amendments to the convention at earlier sessions of MEPC, in the belief that the proposed implementation schedule was unworkable within the predicted time-frame and given the availability of BWMS. Following last year’s MEPC 70 meeting, where no clear decision was taken on the two sets of draft amendments, Liberia initiated discussions with other interested IMO member states and industry organisations to develop a single unified amendment taking into account parts of both drafts.

“Liberia is delighted that MEPC 71 approved the draft amendments, with a view to eventual adoption at MEPC 72. With just two months before the BWMC enters into force, the decision is timely and will ensure that the necessary pieces are in place for shipping and other stakeholders to effectively and smoothly implement the convention, with consequent positive implications for the protection of the marine environment,” he concluded.  

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