Although it is hard to predict what next years will bring for shipping, discussions at this year’s IMO’s MEPC brought in the spotlight a unified effort towards a more sustainable industry. IMO MEPC 72, which took place during the first week of April 2018, agreed on a target to cut shipping’s overall CO2 by adopting an ‘initial strategy’ as a first step.
Under the identified “levels of ambition”, the initial strategy envisages, for the first time, a reduction in total GHG emissions from global shipping by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, while, at the same time, pursuing efforts to phase them out completely.
The strategy also includes a specific reference to “a pathway of CO2 emissions reduction consistent with Paris Agreement temperature goals”. According to IMO’s Roadmap”, agreed in 2016, the strategy is due for revision by 2023.
The IMO decision received a cautious optimism by industry stakeholders across the globe. Although governments, companies, organizations and institutional bodies hailed the move as a game-changing development in the fight against global warming, there are concerns regarding which will be the clear plan towards this effort and reminding that ‘what comes next will be harder’.
As expected in a multilateral negotiation, the final decision is a compromise between the 70-100% emission cuts, targeted by Pacific Islands and Europe, and the 50% by 2060 proposed by Japan and other states. The final decision however enjoyed almost unanimous support from the parties.
IMO’s Roadmap for GHG emissions : A 3 phase approach
Spring 2016: MEPC 70 agreed a ‘Roadmap’ to control GHG emissions
Spring 2017: MEPC 71 discussed IMO Strategy on GHG ship reduction
Spring 2018: MEPC 72 adopts ‘GHG Initial Strategy’ – at least 50% reduction by 2050
January 2019: 1st phase starts (Data Collection) with the mandatory IMO‘s DCS
Spring 2019: MEPC 74 to initiate 4th IMO GHG Study using 2012-2018 data
Autumn 2020: 2nd phase starts (Data Analysis) & 4th IMO GHG Study to be published
Spring 2022: 3rd phase starts (Decision step)
Spring 2023: MEPC 80 to adopt the revised IMO Strategy incl. any measures if required
Either as a change to the landscape of the market or as a new era towards an environmentally friendly encounter of the planet, the GHG deal stresses that shipping is a step closer to facing the very real scenario of decarbonising and investing in new technologies!