MEPC 77 Update

The oracles have weighed in on the 77th Session of IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC77) meeting held last week. The virtual format continues to hamper the progress on so many of the GHG reductions efforts which appear to be frustratingly unachievable in the short term.  Despite calls by the delegates to the COP26 Climate Summit for the IMO to adopt zero-emission targets by 2050, that did not gain the necessary votes to move forward at the Session.  In addition, extraordinarily little progress appeared to be made on the 2018 targets to reduce GHG emissions from ships by 50% from 2008 levels by 2050. 

The theme of MEPC 77 seemed to be “pump the brakes”. IMO has decided to revise its decarbonization strategy by 2023.  Any hope of reaching a consensus on ANY zero emissions proposals were dashed, and proposals including the global market-based measures proposed were deferred to a future meeting.  In response to this and other deferrals, ICS Secretary General, Guy Platten, issued the following statement:

“We are disappointed that the words and commitments made by governments at COP26 have not yet been translated into action. This week’s meetings have missed the opportunity to take forward a range of GHG reduction measures which would accelerate the development of zero emissions ships that are urgently needed at scale to decarbonise our sector. It’s almost as if COP 26 never happened.

“Governments can’t keep kicking the can down the road; every delay moves us further away from reaching pressing climate goals. We will continue to work with governments to agree to the suite of measures which the industry has proposed, including the 5 billion dollar R&D fund as an immediate step to be followed by a levy based carbon price for shipping. The adoption of both these measures will be the only way to deliver on net zero emissions from shipping by 2050 while ensuring an equitable transition that leaves no one behind.

“The message from the industry at COP26 was clear; time is running out and we must do everything in our power to decarbonise now. Industry will continue to press IMO to act as the importance of addressing climate change is too great to give up on.

“There was a clear recognition from many more countries that there is an urgent need to significantly increase R&D spending. But we are disappointed that insufficient time was dedicated to allow IMO Member States to take a decision on the 5 billion dollar fund at this session.

“All we are asking is for governments to let business to get on and do the things that need to be done. We are not even asking for money or the type of subsidies that other sectors receive. This is a no brainer at a time when we do not have time to prevaricate.

“The IMO Maritime Research Fund is the only proposal on the table ready for immediate agreement. If it is not taken forward soon, we fear this will signal to the world, following COP 26, that IMO is no longer truly serious about maintaining its leadership on GHG issues and that others may then move in to fill the vacuum. We will continue to work with governments to ensure that concerns are address so that this fund can be implemented as soon as possible.”

MEPC 78 is scheduled to be held June 6-10, 2022. According to the IMO website, at the 10th session of Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships ( ISWG-GHG 10) that met October 18-22 the working group will propose to MEPC two sessions, ISWG-GHG 11 tentatively scheduled for March of 2022 and a 12 session in May of 2022. There are also plans for an Ad-hoc Expert Workshop on Impact Assessments planned for February 2022.

The IMO Statement on MEPC 77 can be found here:

Published by MKD PV50

Margaret Kaigh Doyle has spent three decades working in the maritime and energy sectors. Doyle served four terms as an appointed member of the US Coast Guard Chemical Transportation Advisory Committee (CTAC), most recently chairing its LNG Fuels Subcommittee. In 2014, Doyle was responsible for developing and delivering the first set of LNG Bunkering Courses in North America. In 2017, she worked as a member of the prep team for Eagle LNG Partners Talleyrand Bunkering Depot, designed and built specifically to fuel the Crowley Dual Fuel ConRo Vessels. Doyle has also participated on the U.S. Delegation to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on LNG matters and serves as a value contributor to the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), SEALNG and the Society for Marine Gas as Fuel (SGMF). She is a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and holds advanced degrees in engineering from The George Washington and Pennsylvania State Universities.

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