IMO is Paving the Way for a Greener Shipping Industry by Reducing CO2 Emissions

CO2 emissions for the shipping industry account for around 1.2 billion tonnes in 2020, which is equal to 2 – 3% of total global CO2 emissions. If measures are not taken, these emissions will rise, probably by 50 – 250% in the course of the next 30 years, according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

If the CO2 emissions remain static, by 2050 it would be 1,210 Mt, based on the 39% growth in demand for seaborne trade projected by DNV GL’s Energy Transition Outlook. it means not only it will not be decreased but also will be increased slightly by itself.

Who is IMO?

IMO is the main regulatory institution for the shipping industry. IMO’s international convention MARPOL (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships) aims at preventing pollution of the marine environment due to operational or accidental causes. CO2 emissions in air are regulated in MARPOL Annex VI, which entered into force in 2005.

Annex VI sets limits on sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions from ships’ exhausts, both globally and more stringently in designated emission control areas (ECAs). To reduce CO2 emissions, a new chapter was adopted in 2011, covering mandatory technical and operational energy efficiency measures.

IMO targets for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to make the shipping industry greener and ships more environmentally-friendly by taking some actions as the following

  • The original focus of IMO work was the prevention of marine pollution by oil, resulting in the adoption of the first-ever comprehensive anti pollution convention, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) in 1973.
  • MARPOL includes requirements addressing pollution from chemicals, other harmful substances, garbage, sewage and, under an Annex VI adopted in 1997, air pollution and emissions from ships.
  • The initial IMO GHG Strategy, adopted in 2018, sets ambitious targets to halve GHG emission from ships by 2050, compared to 2008, and reduce the CO2 intensity of the shipping industry by 40% by 2030 as compared to 2008. The strategy lists a number of candidate measures which could also be considered to further reduce CO2 emissions and help achieve the targets in the strategy, in particular 40% reduction of CO2 intensity from ships by 2030. Short-term measures could be measures finalized and agreed upon by the Committee between 2018 and 2023, although in aiming for early action, priority should be given to developing potential early measures with a view to achieving a further reduction of GHG emissions from the shipping industry before 2023.
  • The 75th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 75) was held remotely with a limited agenda from 16 to 20 November 2020. MEPC 75 approved amendments to MARPOL Annex VI, with new requirements addressing GHG emissions, expected to enter into force on 1 January 2023 pending adoption at MEPC 76 in June 2021.
  • Of the 51 treaty instruments for the regulation of the shipping industry, IMO has adopted so far, 21 are directly environment-related, according to IMO. In other words, more than 40% of IMO regulations are related to environmental issues.

This story is tripartite and will be continued in the second part.

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