‘No remarkable results’ from latest IMO talks on greenhouse gases
At the 78th meeting of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 78) last week, little progress was seen on shipping’s climate ambitions, although a majority of delegates agreed. supported the concept of aligning IMO greenhouse gas targets with the Paris Climate Agreement.
“The meeting was not scheduled as a key decision point for agreement/adoption of one of the elements of IMO’s work on reducing GHG emissions from ships,” University Maritime Advisory reported. Services (UMAS) in a summary. “It is therefore not necessarily surprising that there is no remarkable result. The positive of the meeting is that the discussions on ambition/measurements remain on track for more clarity at MEPC 80 (summer 2023).”
As predicted by third-party observers, the ICS-sponsored plan for a small bunker tax to fund green propulsion research failed to pass. The $2-per-ton research tax was set to compete on the spectrum of climate ambition with much more aggressive market-based measurement taxes, such as the steep bunker tax plan submitted by Japan earlier this year. The ICS plan was not adopted at MEPC 77 in 2021, and it did not attract much support at a pre-MEPC 78 preparatory meeting, according to consultancy University Maritime Advisory Services (UMAS). .
“By refusing to advance the research and development fund proposed by the shipping industry, the IMO has wasted its opportunity to launch a rapid transition to carbon-free technologies,” said the ICS Secretary General, Guy Platten, in a press release. “We were frustrated with short-sighted political maneuvering…Some claimed the fund was a market-based measure and didn’t go far enough, deliberately misinterpreting our intent.”
Although the fund was not designed as a market-based measure, ICS Deputy General Secretary Simon Bennett said its general structure could be reused by the IMO for this purpose in the future. . “The possibility remains for the IMO to use the regulatory architecture proposed by the fund to underpin a future global carbon tax on CO2 emissions from shipping, to close the price gap with carbon-free fuels,” Bennett said.
ICS plans to host an industry conference on June 21 to discuss practical ways to decarbonize shipping, “despite the lack of government leadership at the IMO,” Platten said.
Although the ICS proposal has not moved forward, the general sentiment among member states appears to be in favor of greater climate ambition, supporters said. “It is clear that there is general acceptance among IMO member states that the global shipping industry must reach net zero or absolute zero by 2050 at the latest,” observed the Clean. Arctic Alliance, which advocates for the reduction of black carbon and CO2 emissions.
As a sign of potential progress, MEPC 78 agreed to develop life-cycle guidelines for assessing greenhouse gas emissions from fuels, including the crucial question of whether to include emissions well-to-tank created during fuel production and transportation. The decision to include or exclude these emissions will have a significant impact on the regulatory treatment of different fuel supplies, such as LNG.
For the first time, the MEPC also endorsed the idea of developing market-based measures (such as a carbon tax or a carbon trading system) “as part of a medium-term basket of measures “. This decision will only be taken next year at the earliest. , but the consensus decision in favor of some form of pricing is new.
“The IMO continues to be on track for MEPC 80 in the summer of 2023 to be a key point at which direction, goals, GHG emissions scoping (from good to wake up) and policy, including including GHG pricing, will clarify,” said Dr Tristan Smith. , the director of UMAS. “Momentum is building for a significant boost in ambition and political action, which will then affect the opportunities, risks and values of the sector, including in this decade.”
In addition, MEPC 78 endorsed a long-standing proposal to designate a Sulfur Oxides Emission Control Area for the Mediterranean Sea, similar to the ECAs in place for Northern Europe and North America. SOx has measurable long-term negative effects on human health and a minor localized cooling effect on atmospheric temperature.