No agreement on minimum speed requirements for ships @ MEPC74

224 days to go as of this post before #IMO2020 comes into effect.. I wrote recently about an open letter to IMO Member States by NGOs which states that the shipping industry must take appropriate measures to address climate change urgently..

As an initial step, these NGOs expressed their strong support for the IMO’s proposal to regulate ship speeds across various ship type and size categories..

In the letter, the NGOs said their preference would be to set maximum annual average speeds for container ships, and maximum absolute speeds for the remaining ship types, which take account of minimum speed requirements..

Of course, this was not welcomed by all, least of all by container carriers as it would result in them having to increase their fleet size to meet the delivery schedules imposed on them by the trade.. As per the carriers, this would defeat the purpose of trying to reduce GHG (GreenHouse Gas) emissions..

The letter said that this regulation should be implemented as soon as possible and the obligation for compliance should be placed both on shipowners and operators, including charterers and called on all parties at the forthcoming IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC74) to support this move..

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Well, #MEPC74 has come and gone but there has been no agreement or deal on any of the proposals put forward to reduce GHG emissions..

Several short term measures for the reduction of GHG including speed reduction were discussed and considered but no agreement was reached on any of the specific measures, but at the same time none of the measures were removed from the list..

Instead, it was decided that these proposals will be discussed at two inter-sessional working groups before #MEPC75..

The short-term measures were grouped under :

  1. Improving operational efficiency of existing ships;
  2. Methane slips and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC);
  3. Proposals to encourage the uptake of alternative low to zero carbon fuels including life cycle GHG/carbon intensity guidelines for all relevant types of fuels and incentive schemes

Be that as it may, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) – which represents the world’s national shipowner associations – remains confident that shipping will improve its carbon efficiency by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 2008, in line with IMO’s targets to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions..

In a press release, ICS Secretary General, Guy Platten commented “We welcome the adoption of important new IMO regulations to strengthen and bring forward the application of the Energy Efficiency Design Index for several different types of new build vessel, including containerships. 

We are keen to see further progress on developing more short term measures to help the existing fleet reduce its emissions, and are optimistic that IMO Member States can agree some additional regulations, during 2020, combining prescriptive and goal based approaches that will deliver further GHG reductions before 2023.

Although no final decisions have been taken it was clear that the majority of IMO Member States, including major economies such as China, India, the United States and many South American nations, had little appetite at present for initiatives such as mandatory speed limits, expressing concern that these would reduce the efficiency of maritime transport, in effect increasing the distance between economies and their markets, while acting as a disincentive to the take-up of new CO2 reduction technologies,” added Platten..

In his opinion, “While short term measures are important, ICS continues to assert that IMO needs to move quickly onto considering the critical long term measures that will help the industry to deliver the very ambitious target of a 50% total cut of GHG emissions by 2050 regardless of trade growth. 

This can only realistically be achieved with the introduction of commercially viable zero – or near zero – CO2 emitting propulsion systems, which means that accelerated research and development programmes have to be at the centre of the IMO strategy.

Previously, Bob Sanguinetti, CEO of the UK Chamber of Shipping had written that “more slow steaming is a backwards step for carbon reduction” and that there is not a shred of evidence that reducing speed will have a significant impact on emissions..

According to Bob, “Shipping has been ‘slow steaming’ for years and its carbon output hasn’t collapsed.  But, were the proposals to be accepted, it would provide a disincentive to continued investment in the research, development, engineering and manufacturing necessary to decarbonise.  Even though shipowners are spending billions, these proposals would say – ‘you can carry on using heavy fuel oil but just go a little slower‘.

So what next, and what other short term measures do the shipping lines have, to achieve the target of a 50% reduction in maritime emissions by 2050..??

 


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