Summary of the IMO ISWG-GHG 3 and MEPC 72 meetings

The most important decision over the two weeks was on a future target for reducing GHG emissions from shipping. It was for this reason that ISWG-GHG 3 took place before MEPC 72 to allow extra time to discuss an IMO strategy for reducing GHG emissions.

MEPC 72 also included discussions on ballast water, fuel oil quality and the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI). Most of the outcomes from these discussions was taken forward to MEPC 73. The impact of carrying HFO as a fuel in the artic, noise pollution and plastics and micro plastics were also discussed. Contrary to previous meetings, the carriage of HFO as a fuel had its own agenda item.

In what was described as a landmark agreement member states agreed to a 50% reduction in sector wide carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and to achieve a 40% reduction in carbon intensity by 2030. The carbon intensity means that an individual ship would have to reduce its emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 2008. The sector target is a bit more complicated because it would have to account for the expected growth in the industry between 2008 to 2050.

Pursuing 1.5 degrees in the Paris Agreement

The reduction targets for shipping came from a large compromise. There were a few member states who did not want anything quantitative target, but many member states wanted a more ambitious target that is in-line with the Paris agreement. The Paris agreement pursues effort toward keeping climate change to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Full decarbonisation by 2050 is the minimum course required for a 1.5 degrees target. Missing the 1.5 degrees target creates existential threats for some countries and environmental and socio-economic threats for all.

How do the agreedĀ targets fit in with the EEDI, DCS and the IMO GHG Roadmap?

A sector wide emission reduction strategy for shipping is all encompassing when compared to the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), agreed in 2012, which is only for the design of new ships. The agreed strategy is a core part of the IMO GHG Roadmap, which includes short-term, medium-term and long-term measures to reduce GHG emissions from ships. These are set to be discussed between 2018 and 2023 with the EEDI and the IMO Data Collection System (DCS) being part of this roadmap.

Papers and Presentations

We wrote an IMO paper for RINA and IMarEST (ISWG-GHG 1/2/10), which was presented at the IMO GHG Intersessional meeting. You can download the presentation here:

This was the outcome of a few years of research from the that was done for the Shipping in Changing Climates project.