Many of the soothsayers have weighed in on the 76th Session IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC76) meeting last month and the reviews are mixed. You can read the official IMO release on MEPC76 here. The virtual format made the process difficult but here is what they did hammer out:
As of July 1, 2024, the use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic will be barred, reducing the risk of black carbon fouling of Arctic ice. One caveat agreed upon was a waiver for MARPOL signatory flag states, who can waive the requirements in domestic waters until July 1, 2029.
Both the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and the Carbon Intensity Index (CII) were officially adopted. The EEXI examines the energy efficiency of ships over 400 gross tons and rates each ship from A (good) to E (bad). Ships scoring C or below must carry out corrective actions to better their score. The CII is a similar measure that can be used to drive down CO2 emissions. The goal of the Committee is to use the index to reduce emissions by 11% by 2026. The official IMO statement reads as follows:
‘The amendments to MARPOL Annex VI (adopted in a consolidated revised Annex VI) are expected to enter into force on 1 November 2022, with the requirements for EEXI and CII certification coming into effect from 1 January 2023. This means that the first annual reporting on carbon intensity will be completed in 2023, with the first rating given in 2024…. A review clause requires the IMO to review the effectiveness of the implementation of the CII and EEXI requirements, by 1 January 2026 at the latest, and, if necessary, develop and adopt further amendments.’
The key means of achieving the CII based reduction in emissions, and one which also can help to score C and above on the EEXI, is for ships to slow down, burn less fuel, and emit fewer greenhouse gases (GHGs). Critics of this session are afraid that the announced measures do nothing to encourage the replacement of older, less efficient ships with newbuilds with low or zero carbon fuel propulsion systems.
A proposal for a $2 per ton fuel tax to establish a decarbonization research fund is moving forward. The proposal from the Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands for a $100 per ton carbon tax on marine fuels will also be taken up by future intersessional working groups. Neither proposal has an implementation date.
Due to a lack of time several agenda items were postponed to MEPC 77. Correspondence groups have been formed to continue the discussion on a number of agenda items that weren’t fully flushed out. MEPC 76 approved the terms of reference for a Correspondence Group on Carbon Intensity Reduction and scheduled meetings of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (ISWG-GHG 9 and ISWG-GHG 10). The ISWG-GHG 9 is expected to meet in September and ISWG-GHG 10 in October 2021, ahead of MEPC 77, which is scheduled to meet 8-12 November 2021.