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Between 12 and 16 December 2022, the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee, which addresses all environmental issues within the IMO’s remit, held its 79th session.
Among the meeting highlights were the amendments to MARPOL annexes.
Amendments to MARPOL Annex VI were adopted to establish a Mediterranean Emission Control Area (ECA) for sulphur oxides and particulate matter. The requirement will be the same as for other sulphur ECAs, ensuring vessels use fuel oil with a sulphur content not exceeding 0.10% or employ an exhaust gas cleaning system. These changes will enter into force on 1 May 2024, but not take effect until 1 May 2025, giving affected businesses over two years to adapt.
MARPOL Annex VI was further amended at Appendix V to include information on the flashpoint of fuel in the Bunker Delivery Note (BDN). Relevant parties could alternatively provide a statement that the flashpoint has been measured at or above 70°C. This amendment enters into force on 1 May 2024.
Finally, Amendments to MARPOL Annex VI, Appendix IX were adopted to include the attained and required Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) values, the CII rating and attained Energy Efficiency Design Index for existing ships (EEXI) in the required information to be submitted to the IMO Ship Fuel Oil Consumption Database. Again, the amendment enters into force on 1 May 2024, but the MEPC invites administrations – at their option – to consider early application from 1 January 2024.
Work towards MEPC 80
The MEPC also indicated plans to adopt various further changes at its next session, to be held in July 2023. These changes include a revision to the format of the Ballast Water Record Book (BWRB) to bring it in line with the oil record book. Also, the parties signalled their intention to provide guidance permitting the use of ballast tanks for temporary storage of treated sewage and grey water.
The congress also agreed in principle to designate the North-western Mediterranean Sea as a PSSA (Particularly Sensitive Sea Area), with protective measures to be established prior to the designation.
Revision of the IMO Greenhouse Gases (GHG) Strategy
While the amendments above indicated a spirit of cordiality, there remains a lack of agreement between member states about how to reduce GHG usage. Some states call for full decarbonisation by 2050, while others call for further assessments on the feasibility of achieving such an ambition and its potential impacts. Member states could also not agree on whether the intermediate target should be set for 2030 or 2040. Working groups are to be established in the coming months to ensure momentum going into MEPC 80.
As to the method of achieving these goals, members did indicate a preference for a levy scheme, which would impose a set price on well-to-wake or tank-to-wake GHG emissions, in combination with a rebate system where the revenues are partly provided back to vessels to cover the price gap between fossil and low or zero-carbon fuels. Members also indicated support for establishing a well-to-wake GHG intensity fuel standard.