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Progress Made On IMO's Environmental Initiatives

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

28 May 2015

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) met for its 68th session from May 11-15 2015.

The MEPC adopted the environmental requirements of the Polar Code and associated MARPOL amendments to make the Code mandatory (expected to be in place from January 1, 2017); adopted amendments to MARPOL related to tanks for oil residues; designated an extension to the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA); and furthered its work on implementation of air pollution and energy efficiency measures and the Ballast Water Management Convention.

The MEPC reviewed the status of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention), 2004, which is close to receiving sufficient ratifications to meet the remaining entry into force criterion (tonnage). The number of contracting governments is currently 44, representing 32.86 percent of the world's merchant fleet tonnage. The BWM Convention will enter into force 12 months after the date on which not fewer than 30 states, the combined merchant fleets of which constitute not less than 35 percent of the world's gross tonnage, have ratified it.

A "Roadmap for the implementation of the BWM Convention" was agreed, which emphasizes that early movers – that is, ships which install ballast water management systems approved in accordance with the current Guidelines (G8) – should not be penalized.

The MEPC also continued its work on further developing guidelines to assist in the implementation of the mandatory energy-efficiency regulations for international shipping and adopted amendments to update the 2014 Guidelines on survey and certification of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) and endorsed their application from September 1, 2015, at the same time encouraging earlier application; adopted amendments to the 2013 Interim Guidelines for determining minimum propulsion power to maintain the maneuverability of ships in adverse conditions; and adopted amendments to update the 2014 Guidelines on the method of calculation of the attained EEDI for new ships.

In addition, the MEPC considered a submission from the Marshall Islands that called for a quantifiable reduction target for greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping. During the discussion, the member states that spoke acknowledged and recognized the importance of the issues raised by the Marshall Islands and also recognized that, despite the measures already taken by the Organization regarding the reduction of emissions from ships, more can be done.

However, the Committee took the view that the priority at this stage should be to continue its current work, and in particular to focus on further reduction of emissions from ships through the finalization of a data collection system. The Marshall Islands proposal could then be further addressed at an appropriate future session of the Committee, it was said.

TAGS: environment | compliance | Energy | marine | mining | energy | Australia | Marshall Islands | Hong Kong | regulation | Communications | Work

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