As the global shipping industry has a rather large environmental footprint – contributing to around 2%of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide – reducing this impact has been a critical objective for regulators.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), the global authority for regulating the shipping industry, has made progress toward increasing the energy efficiency of ships since 2011. It is the only organizationto have implemented legally binding energy efficiency measures across an entire global industry, applying to all countries.

In April of last year, IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) established a strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ships, with the objective of eliminating them as soon as possible. Now, the MEPC has approved amendmentsto this initial strategy, strengthening the mandatory energy efficiency requirements for ships worldwide.

These amendments, approved in May and to be adopted April 2020, reflect the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions international shipping and further support objectives set by the Paris Agreement and United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Entering Phase 3 sooner

The IMO had previously established a series of baselines for the amount of fuel burned by each type of ship for a certain cargo capacity, with ships needing to beat these baselines by increasing amounts over the years. As such, ships built in 2025 – Phase 3 of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) –  would be required to be 30% more energy efficient than those built in 2014.

These new amendments have moved this date from 2025 to 2022 for several types of ships. For gas carriers, general cargo ships and LNG carriers, ships built in 2022 must follow the below EEDI reduction rates:

  • EEDI reduction rate of 50% from 2022 for containerships of 200,000 DWT and above
  • 45% from 2022 for containerships of 120,000 DWT and above but less than 200,000 DWT
  • 40% from 2022 for containerships of 80,000 DWT and above but less than 120,000 DWT
  • 35% from 2022 for containerships of 40,000 DWT and above but less than 80,000 DWT
  • 30% from 2022 for containerships of 15,000 DWT and above but less than 40,000 DWT

Further actions

In addition to strengthening existing energy efficiency regulations, the MEPC also:

  • Adopted a resolution encouraging voluntary cooperation between ports and shippers to support the reduction of GHG emissions from ships
  • Initiated the Fourth IMO GHG Study, which will include inventory of current global GHG emissions from international ships of 100 GT, including total annual GHG emission series from 2012 to 2018, as well as other relevant substances that may contribute to climate change (Black Carbon, etc.), possible estimates of carbon intensity of international shipping from 2008, and scenarios for future international shipping emissions 2018 to 2050
  • Approved a procedure to assess the impact of the newly proposed measures
  • Agreed to establish a multi-donor trust fund for GHG
  • Discussed possible short-term, mid-term and long-term measures aimed at reducing GHG emissions from ships, which will be discussed further at future sessions

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