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IMO Reviews Shipping's Contribution To Global Warming

by Amanda Banks,, London

27 February 2013

International experts have begun work at the International Maritime Organization's headquarters on updating the inventory of greenhouse gases from international shipping, to provide reliable and up-to-date information to inform further measures to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The new inventory will provide an updated view of the environmental damage of international shipping since the last study before the economic downturn. A study in 2009 estimated that international shipping emitted 870 million tonnes or about 2.7% of the global man-made emissions of carbon dioxide in 2007.

Exhaust gases are the primary source of GHG emissions from ships, with carbon dioxide the most important GHG, both in terms of quantity and of global warming potential. The IMO explained that the study is being undertaken to enable policymakers to better understand the efficacy of new rules to limit GHG emissions that entered into force on January 1, 2013. It is anticipated that the findings will be presented at the Marine Environmental Protection Committee's 65th meeting in May 2013.

At the start of this year, the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) was made mandatory for new ships and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for all ships, under amendments to MARPOL Annex VI adopted in 2011.

The EEDI is a non-prescriptive, performance-based mechanism that leaves the choice of technologies in a specific ship design to the industry. As long as the required energy-efficiency level is attained, ship designers and builders would be free to use the most cost-efficient solutions for the ship to comply with the regulations.

The SEEMP establishes a mechanism for operators to improve the energy efficiency of ships. Ships are required to keep on board a ship-specific Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan.

The regulations apply to all ships of 400 gross tonnage and above. However, under regulation 19, the IMO may waive the requirements for new ships up to a maximum of four years as a transitional arrangement.

The latest study will look to establish levels of a number of GHG emissions from international shipping, prior to the entry into force of the rules, including: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexaflouride, nitrogen oxides, non-methane volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, particulate matter and sulphur oxides.

TAGS: environment | Energy | marine | energy | regulation

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