June 28, 2021 | Circular No. 11291

Dear Member,

The IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) met virtually earlier this month and the Shipping Federation observed as a member of the Canadian delegation. Below is a summary of Canada’s perspective on the key topics covered:

  • Greenhouse gases (GHGs) were the major topic at this meeting.
    • MEPC adopted short-term technical and operational measures for the reduction of GHGs. The approved levels take effect in 2023 and represent an 11% reduction from 2019 levels by 2026. There was strong disagreement on this between countries and Canada did not support the approved measures, with the view that they are not ambitious enough to achieve the decarbonization goals set out by the MEPC, or the climate change goals in the Paris Agreement. Short-term measures include the carbon intensity index (CII), the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and an enhancement of the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP).
    • Medium and long-term measures: MEPC discussed monetary instruments (a price on carbon) in preliminary terms. In-depth discussions are planned to happen in working group meetings, and be developed in time for spring 2023. Canada’s position is that a price on pollution is a key tool to reduce it, and Canada supports all proposals to do so.
    • R&D fund for decarbonization: MEPC discussed the International Maritime Research and Development Board (IMRB) proposed by industry. The goal of the fund is to accelerate the development of technologies for zero emissions shipping. The proposal would provide funding via a USD2 per tonne mandatory levy on marine fuel. The discussion did not reach a conclusion, and will continue the next MEPC meeting in November 2021. Canada supports this proposal, and believes that it should be considered as a group and developed in tandem with a price on carbon.
  • Arctic Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) Ban: MEPC approved a ban on the use and carriage for use as fuel of HFO by ships in Arctic waters as of July 1, 2024. HFO carriage by tankers meeting certain safety requirements will be allowed until 2029, and Arctic state- flagged vessels (e.g., Canadian vessels) may also receive waivers within their own waters until 2029. Canada was part of the drafting group and supported the ban.
  • Underwater noise: MEPC agreed to review and identify next steps for the ‘Guidelines for the reduction of underwater noise from commercial shipping to address adverse impacts on marine life’ by 2023. This work was proposed by a coalition including Canada, and is viewed as a positive outcome following several years of work.
  • Black carbon: MEPC was scheduled to review policies to decrease black carbon. Although Discussions on this topic were postponed until the next MEPC meeting, Canada made a statement underlining the importance of this issue. Black carbon (soot) is caused by incomplete combustion. It is a human health concern, and the second largest driver of climate warming after CO2.

Please contact the undersigned with any questions.


Miako Ushio
Manager, Environmental and Regulatory Affairs