IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 78) met virtually last week, and the Federation observed as a member of the Canadian Delegation. In the shortened virtual format of the MEPC meetings over the past few years, decarbonization has dominated the agenda and discussion of other topics has been postponed. While decarbonization remained the dominant topic at this meeting, progress was also made on several other issues. Below is a summary of key topics covered and Canada’s perspective on them.
GHG Strategy: Revising IMO’s Intitial Stragetgy on the Reduction of Greenhouse Gasses (GHG) from Ships is set to be completed by July 2023, at MEPC 80. In discussions at MEPC last week, many member states, including Canada, spoke in support of revising IMO GHG targets to be in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. This would mean a more ambitious net-zero or absolute zero emissions by 2050, instead of the current target of 50% emissions reduction by 2050. No binding decisions were made.
R&D Fund: MEPC discussed the ICS- sponsored proposal for a $2USD per tonne mandatory fuel levy to fund an International Maritime Research and Development Board (IMRB), for research and development of technologies for zero emissions shipping. This proposal was widely supported by industry as a way to accelerate the commercial availability of low- or zero carbon fuels. However, member states did not approve the proposal. The Federation has expressed support for the proposed fund in consultations with the Canadian government, who also supported the proposal. However, the Canadian government believes that the fund should be considered together with “market-based measures” such as a price on carbon. A concern was that this levy could further delay progress on more substantial ‘market-based measures’ such as a carbon trading system or a carbon price.
Short-term measures (EEXI, SEEMP, CII): MEPC approved guidelines for the short-term measures for greenhouse gas reductions to enter into force in 2023. These technical and operational measures, sometimes called “IMO 2023” in media, focus on increasing energy efficiency and reducing fuel consumption of the existing fleet. They include the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI), the enhanced Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP), and Carbon Intensity Indicators (CII). Canada was supportive of the outcome.
Member countries extended the ‘experience- building phase’ of the Ballast Water Management Convention to the fall of 2026, in large part because data on effectiveness of D-2 (ballast water treatment) systems was substantially delayed by the pandemic. This means that vessels will continue not to be penalized for D-2 systems that are properly installed and maintained but have discharges not in compliance with the Convention, until fall of 2026. Canada is active in this file, has suggested that BWM system compliance should be done outside of Port State Control, and is part of the correspondence group to review the Ballast Water Management Convention. This group will identify areas for improving Ballast Water Management System performance and reliability as well as crew training and maintenance, and report to MEPC 80 in July 2023.
Temporary carriage of treated sewage and greywater in tanks designed for ballast water was discussed under this agenda item. Canada’s position is that discharges from such tanks should be compliant with the Ballast Water Management Convention and concerns should be addressed in the context of MARPOL. Member countries and organizations were invited to submit proposals for additional aspects for guidance.
Mediterranean Sea Emission Control Area (ECA)
Member states including Canada approved establishing the entire Mediterranean Sea as an ECA. This measure, if adopted at MEPC 79 in December 2023, would set the maximum sulfur content of fuel in the region at 0.1%, similar to the North American ECA.
Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS) Guidelines
Guidelines for risk and impact assessment of discharge water from EGCS were approved. These provide recommended methodology for risk assessment that countries should follow when considering local or regional regulations for EGCS discharge water. Guidelines for the delivery of EGCS effluent to port reception facilities were also approved.
Please contact the undersigned with questions.
Manager, Environmental and Regulatory Affairs