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The IMO Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) recently held its 76th session. Several short-term decarbonization measures were adopted, despite criticism on the technical setup from NGOs and industry actors.

MEPC adopted both operational and technical measures to reduce carbon intensity of the international maritime industry, taking effect from 2023. These measures include the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI), the enhanced Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) and the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) rating scheme.

“The path to decarbonization is long”

The new measures will require all ships to calculate their Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) following technical means to improve their energy efficiency and to establish their annual operational carbon intensity indicator (CII) and CII rating. Carbon intensity links the GHG emissions to the amount of cargo carried over distance travelled.

Ships will get a rating of their energy efficiency (A, B, C, D, E – where A is the best). Administrations, port authorities and other stakeholders as appropriate, are encouraged to provide incentives to ships rated as A or B also sending out a strong signal to the market and financial sector. A ship rated D for three consecutive years, or E, is required to submit a corrective action plan, to show how the required index (C or above) would be achieved.

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said the adoption of the new measures would build on IMO’s previously adopted mandatory energy efficiency measures, to lead shipping on the right path towards decarbonization.

– The path to decarbonization is a long, but also a common path in which we need to consider and respect each other’s views” Mr. Lim said, Both the adopted measures, their technical set up, and how they will influence decarbonization of shipping in line with the ambition of the Initial IMO GHG Strategy – which aims to reduce carbon intensity of international shipping by 40 % by 2030, compared to 2008 – have been criticized.

Fair and effective measures are needed

— The shipping industry is in favor of stricter regulations and concrete measures to cut emissions, however regulations and measures must be fair and effective. A challenge with the new indexes is that they do not account for differences within ship types and operational profiles. The commercial operation of the vessels will in many cases be outside the control of the vessel owner, who still is responsible for meeting the indexes, said Senior Advisor in Wilh. Wilhelmsen, Per Brinchmann. Brinchmann is also head of the Deep Sea expert group, the joint shipping initiative of Maritime Bergen and Maritime CleanTech.

Also, IMOs overall speed on decarbonization of the shipping industry is questioned by many stakeholders. Several scheduled discussions – on for example a global shipping carbon levy – were rescheduled to the next MEPC-meeting in October 2021. This has also been criticized by e.g. The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association.

“As expected”
Vice President Technology in Odfjell, Erik Hjortland, was not surprised by the outcome of the latest IMO-meeting.

– The outcome of the MEPC-76 was as we expected. IMO is a consensus-oriented organization, and the working conditions for the MEPC nowadays due to the covid-situation is not optimum. The meetings are normally arranged physically, with plenty of opportunities for informal negotiations and discussions. Virtual meetings are obviously not ideal for this kind of multilateral dialogue. That being said, at least we now have got in place the important framework for decarbonizing of shipping. This is just the start, and we expect this to accelerate from here, Hjortland said.

The way forward

Due to the discussions on the technical setup of the indexes, the group decided that a new correction factor guideline (G5) will be discussed in a Correspondence Group and agreed by MEPC 78 in 2022 at the latest. The next MEPC will be held in October 2021.