IMO Adopts Revised Emissions Strategy

MONDAY, JULY 24, 2023

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) recently announced that Member States at the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 80) meeting have adopted a new strategy on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ships.

The 2023 IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships reportedly includes an “enhanced common ambition” to net zero greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping close to 2050. The commitment will work to ensure an uptake of alternative zero and near-zero GHG fuels by 2030, with “indicative” checkpoints for 2030 and 2040.

About the Strategy

According to the report, the revised strategy represents the continuation of work by IMO as the “appropriate” international body to address GHG emissions from international shipping. IMO states that the revised strategy involves levels of ambition, which include:

  • Carbon intensity of the ship to decline through further improvement of the energy efficiency for new ships;
  • Carbon intensity of international shipping to decline;
  • Uptake of zero or near-zero GHG emission technologies, fuels and/or energy sources to increase; and
  • GHG emissions from international shipping reach net zero.

Additionally, the indicative checkpoints to reach net-zero GHG emissions reportedly include:

  • Reducing the total annual GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 20%, striving for 30%, by 2030, compared to 2008; and
  • Reducing the total annual GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 70%, striving for 80%, by 2040, compared to 2008.

"The adoption of the 2023 IMO Greenhouse Gas Strategy is a monumental development for IMO and opens a new chapter towards maritime decarbonization. At the same time, it is not the end goal, it is in many ways a starting point for the work that needs to intensify even more over the years and decades ahead of us,” said IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim. “However, with the Revised Strategy that you have now agreed on, we have a clear direction, a common vision, and ambitious targets to guide us to deliver what the world expects from us.

The strategy states that a “basket” of candidate measures delivering on the reduction targets should be developed and finalized, comprising both a technical element—namely, a goal-based marine fuel standard to regulate the phased reduction of marine fuel’s GHG intensity—and an economic element, based on a maritime GHG emissions pricing mechanism.

According to the release, the candidate economic elements will be assessed observing specific criteria, considered in the comprehensive impact assessment. The assessments will reportedly be done with a view to facilitate the finalization of the basket of measures.

The strategy also reportedly recognizes how developing countries have special needs in regard to capacity-building and technical-cooperation. An appendix will reportedly provide an overview of relevant IMO initiatives supporting the reduction of GHG emissions from ships. More about the initiatives can be found here.

The MEPC also addresses environmental issues under IMO’s remit, including the control and prevention of ship-source pollution covered by the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) treaty, including oil, chemicals carried in bulk, sewage, garbage and emissions from ships.

Other matters covered include ballast water management, anti-fouling systems, ship recycling, pollution preparedness and response and identification of special areas and particularly sensitive sea areas.

According to the IMO, MEPC 80 met from July 3-7 at the IMO headquarters in London. It was reportedly attended by around 1,800 delegates (in person and remotely).

Next Steps

The revised strategy also reportedly sets out a timeline for the adoption of the basket of measures, as well as the adoption of the updated 2028 IMO GHG Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships. The next steps include:

  • MEPC 81 (Spring 2024) - Interim report on Comprehensive impact assessment of the basket of candidate mid-term measures/Finalization of basket of measures;
  • MEPC 82 (Autumn 2024) - Finalized report on Comprehensive impact assessment of the basket of candidate mid-term measures;
  • MEPC 83 (Spring 2025) - Review of the short-term measure to be completed by 1 January 2026;
  • MEPC 84 (Spring 2026) - Approval of measures / Review of the short-term measure (EEXI and CII) to be completed by 1 January 2026; and
  • Extraordinary one or two-day MEPC (six months after MEPC 83 in Autumn 2025) - Adoption of measures.

A full overview of the strategy can be found here.

Industry Responses

Global coatings manufacturer AkzoNobel recently released an emailed statement commenting on the new IMO revisions. Chris Birkert, AkzoNobel's Marine Coatings Segment Manager, reportedly described the strategy as a “pivotal moment” for the shipping industry.

According to the company, an estimated 30% of current ships do not have the technology available to calculate and report its Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) data to the Data Collection System verifier by March 21, 2024, as required by the IMO. Now, shipowners face what the company calls an "ultimatum" on whether to upgrade their ships or scrap them altogether.

“Everyone’s been waiting for this announcement, and shipowners must now decide whether to service or scrap their vessels and then replace them with newbuildings,” said Birkert in an emailed release.

“Shipowners and coatings companies now have a timeline to work towards and understanding and knowing that your emissions data has never been more important.”

Additionally, World Travel and Tourism Council President and CEO Julie Simpson urged governments across the globe to help the IMO achieve its goal, reported TravelPulse.

“We urge governments to actively support sustainable marine fuels, shoreside power and other net zero technologies in all shipping sectors,” Simpson said. 

“Collaboration between governments and the industry is vital to achieve net zero emissions.” 

Related News

Last year, AkzoNobel unveiled its new service to help support the decarbonization of the marine industry. The Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) calculator reportedly determines the overall efficiency of a vessel and predicts its carbon output, how it will be classified under the new IMO regulations and what shipowners can do to improve their rating.

According to the emailed release, global shipping currently equates to 2.5% of all CO2 emissions. AkzoNobel reports that coatings have an important role to play in helping fleets become more efficient, as increased drag from biofouling on the underwater hull of a vessel is one of the biggest impacts on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The CII calculator works by using AkzoNobel’s Intertrac Vision tool, which uses the collective big data analysis from multiple points regarding vessel performance over a number of years and the results it shows are calculations of what reductions are necessary for carbon output for a ship to improve its rating.

Additionally, the calculator can be used in conjunction with its Intertrac HullCare package, which can further reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption when the vessel is in service. Over 560 vessels have reportedly been coated with the product since launch. AkzoNobel adds that a number of customers have recoated their vessels with Intercept 8500 LPP after successful in-service performance for up to 60 months.

Intercept 8500 LPP is a self-polishing Silyl Methacrylate, co-polymer antifouling coating. The biocide package offers a clean hull but also comes with a guaranteed speed loss of 1.5% over the docking cycle.

The company stated that the tool had already gained positive feedback from customers for predicting the impact of coating choice on CII rating over the docking cycle and ensured that it would be in compliance with the legislation that started in January 2023. It has also reportedly been independently verified.


Tagged categories: AkzoNobel; Asia Pacific; Carbon dioxide; Carbon footprint; Coatings; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Emissions; Environmental Control; Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection; Health and safety; IMO; Latin America; Marine; Marine Coatings; North America; Program/Project Management; Regulations; Ships and vessels; Z-Continents

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