MEPC -73 - Work on GHG emissions makes progress

Nov 03 2018

The IMO has released a roundup of the main actions taken and decisions made at last week’s MEPC 73 meeting.

MEPC approved a programme of follow-up actions of the initial IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships up to 2023.

This action programme is intended to be used as a planning tool in meeting the timelines identified in the initial IMO strategy, which was adopted in April, 2018. Concrete proposals were invited on short-term measures to be put to MEPC 74 (May 2019), for consideration, as well as on the procedure for assessing the impacts on states.

Draft terms of reference were developed for the fourth IMO GHG study, which should be initiated in 2019. It was agreed that an ‘expert workshop should be held in order to discuss technical and methodological issues and advise the committee on the terms of reference of the Study. This study is intended to provide an update of emissions estimates for shipping during 2012 to 2018 and may include scenarios for future shipping emissions and estimates of carbon intensity. 

The terms of reference were approved for the fifth meeting of the Intersessional Working Group on GHG emissions reduction, to be held ahead of MEPC 74. The  group will consider concrete proposals for assessing the impacts on states of candidate measures; and considering concrete proposals on candidate short-term measures.

MEPC also received the interim report of the review of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) beyond phase 2. The possibility of bringing forward the phase 3 requirement to 2022 (from 2025), for certain ships, was discussed. Concrete proposals were invited for MEPC 74 for further discussion of the proposed amendments. 

The 2018 Guidelines on the method of calculation of the attained Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships were adopted, incorporating updates to the 2014 guidelines.

In addition, MEPC 73 stressed that the new lower 0.5% limit on sulfur in ships’ fuel oil will be in force from 1st January, 2020, under MARPOL. The new limit will be applicable globally - while in designated ECAs the limit will remain even lower, at 0.1%.

MEPC adopted a MARPOL amendment to prohibit the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil for combustion purposes for propulsion or operation on board a ship - unless the ship has an exhaust gas cleaning system (scrubber) fitted. The committee also approved guidance on ship implementation planning and on best practice for fuel oil suppliers.

An action plan was adopted to address marine plastic litter from ships, intended to contribute to the global solution for preventing marine plastic litter entering the oceans through ship based activities.

A number of actions will be reviewed at MEPC 74 prior to further work being undertaken. 

MEPC said that the BWM Convention entered into force in September, 2017 and has, to date, been ratified by 79 countries, representing 80.94% of world merchant shipping tonnage.

The committee approved Guidance on System Design Limitations of BWMS and their monitoring, and guidance for BWMS commissioning testing.

Also adopted were amendments to update the BWMS guidelines and development of ballast water management plans (G4) to address the inclusion of information on contingency measures in ballast water management plans. 

The committee recognised that there may be a need for future improvements to BWMC in the light of experience gained and has approved a data gathering and analysis plan for an experience-building phase. 

Based on the experience and feedback gained, as well as the analysis of the data gathered, draft amendments to the Convention could be put forward for consideration at a future MEPC. It was agreed that two new outputs should be included in its agenda: Review of the BWMC based on data gathered in the experience-building phase, and Urgent measures emanating from issues identified during the experience-building phase of the BWMC’, both with a target completion year of 2023. 
committee also instructed the sub-committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping to develop training provisions for seafarers related to BWMC, with a target completion year of 2021. 

MEPC also approved two ballast water management systems that make use of Active Substances.

IMO agreed that the sub-committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) should develop a ban on heavy fuel oil for use and carriage as fuel by ships in Arctic waters, based on an assessment of the impacts of such a ban.

MEPC approved, for future adoption, draft amendments to MARPOL Annex II to strengthen, in specified sea areas, discharge requirements for tank washings containing persistent floating products with a high-viscosity and/or a high melting point that can solidify under certain conditions (eg, certain vegetable oils and paraffin-like cargoes).

Amongst other matters, the MEPC:

  • Adopted the 2018 Guidelines for the discharge of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) bleed-off water.
  • Approved (for adoption in 2019) draft amendments to the IBC Code, including the draft revised chapters 17 (Summary of minimum requirements), 18 (List of products to which the code does not apply), 19 (Index of Products Carried in Bulk) and 21 (Criteria for assigning carriage requirements for products subject to the IBC Code).
  • Approved an MEPC circular on Guidelines for the carriage of energy-rich fuels and their blends.
  • Approved part IV of the Guidelines for the use of dispersants for combating oil pollution at sea, which focuses on the sub-sea application of dispersant.
  • Approved, for subsequent adoption, draft Guidelines for the use of electronic record books under MARPOL and associated draft amendments to MARPOL and the NOX Technical Code.


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