The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) welcomed the significant progress made by IMO's MEPC 73 on some key environmental issues, such as the GHG reduction from ships and the 2020 sulphur cap.
"While attention was rightly focused on preparations for the 2020 sulphur cap, IMO also made very good progress towards implementing the ambitious GHG reduction strategy agreed in April, adopting an Action Plan for the development of short term measures that will deliver additional CO2 reductions before 2023 plus longer term measures that will eventually achieve full decarbonisation of international shipping,"
...commented ICS Chairman, Esben Poulsson.
In particular, Mr. Poulsson expressed satisfaction that IMO Member States have not sought to reopen the historic agreement or the CO2 reduction targets previously agreed, and praised how China's proposals for organising future work formed a key part of the agreed IMO Action Plan.
"While no concrete decisions were taken on specific new CO2 reduction measures, ICS noted broad support for the industry’s proposals for mandatory auditing of Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plans (‘Super SEEMP’) – and further improvements to the Energy Efficiency Design Index for future ships. Both are measures which ICS says can be adopted very quickly."
ICS says there is growing understanding amongst Member States about the serious problems associated with ideas such as publishing mandatory operational efficiency indicators or adopting mandatory speed limits (as opposed to speed optimisation measures) due to the potential for seriously distorting shipping markets and disrupting the efficiency of global trade. However, discussions on these ideas will continue at IMO next year.
"With the Action Plan agreed by IMO this week, the way is now clear to make detailed proposals for specific CO2 reduction measures at the next MEPC in May. In co-operation with other industry associations ICS intends to come forward with detailed ideas, potentially including new and innovative measures for long term CO2 reduction and the development of zero CO2 fuels,"
...added Mr Poulsson.
Additionally, ICS welcomed the adoption by IMO this week of guidelines on implementation of the 2020 sulphur cap and the template for implementation planning, as well as the carriage ban of non-compliant fuel from 1 March 2020.
"Many industry associations, including ICS, have raised legitimate concerns about fuel availability, safety and compatibility of new fuels – a particular problem for those in the tramp trades. But if shipowners can demonstrate in good faith that they’ve done everything possible to follow an implementation plan – in line with the template IMO has now adopted – we hope that common sense will prevail in the event that safe and compliant fuels are not immediately available everywhere."
Finally, ICS highlighted that there are still numerous complex issues to be urgently addressed by IMO, both at the MEPC 74 next May and by the Maritime Safety Committee in December – to which the industry has already submitted a detailed paper calling on governments to better enforce fuel quality, especially as shipping companies will have to start ordering compliant fuels, including new blends, from the middle of next year.
"But ICS is confident the sulphur cap will ultimately be a great success bringing real health and environmental benefits to coastal populations which is what this major regulatory change is all about,"