Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships

​The MEPC is expected to develop and agree a programme of actions to implement the initial IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships, which was adopted in April 2018.

An Intersessional Working Group, meeting the week preceding MEPC 73, on 15-19 October, is expected to initiate this work and will report to the Committee.

Feeding in to the process towards adoption of a revised Strategy in 2023 will be the data collection system on fuel oil consumption of ships over 5,000 gross tons, which begins on 1 January 2019; and a fourth IMO GHG study, to be initiated in the first half of 2019.

Further work on energy efficiency of ships (EEDI)

The MEPC will receive a report on progress by the correspondence group on review of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) “beyond phase 2”. The correspondence group has submitted an interim report to MEPC 73 with a final report due to be submitted to MEPC 74 (Spring 2019), providing a recommendation on the time period and reduction rates for EEDI “phase 3” requirements. This could lead to a tightening of requirements for certain new ships.

Implementation of sulphur 2020 limit

The 0.50% limit on sulphur in ships’ fuel oil will be applicable globally from 1 January 2020- while in designated emission control areas (ECAs) the limit will remain even lower, at 0.10%. IMO has been working with Member States and the industry to support implementation of the new limit.

MEPC 73 is expected to approve ship implementation planning guidance as well as best practice guides for Member States/coastal States and for fuel oil suppliers.

Enforcement, compliance with and monitoring of the new sulphur limit is the remit and responsibility of States Party to MARPOL Annex VI. The MEPC is expected to adopt a complementary MARPOL amendment, which will prohibit the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil - unless the ship has an exhaust gas cleaning system (scrubber) fitted.

Adoption of this amendment would not change in any way the entry into force date of the 0.50% limit from 1 January 2020. It is intended as an additional measure to support consistent implementation and compliance and enforcement by States, particularly port State control.

Marine plastic litter

​MEPC will consider a number of proposals to address the issue of marine plastic litter from shipping, in the context of 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14) on the oceans.

A number of proposals have been put forward for consideration, covering issues such as a proposed study on the state of marine plastic litter; looking into the availability and adequacy of port reception facilities; looking at marking and retrieval of fishing gear; reporting the loss of fishing gear and containers; facilitating the delivery of retrieved fishing gear or passively-fished waste to shore facilities; reviewing training; raising awareness; and strengthening international cooperation.

The Committee is expected to develop and agree on an action plan to address marine plastic litter, and to agree on the scope of work for the relevant Sub-Committees, in particular the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR).

BWM treaty implementation

The BWM Convention entered into force in September 2017 and has, to date, been ratified by 77 countries, representing 77.17% of world merchant shipping tonnage. Amendments to the treaty, relating to implementation of the convention, were adopted at the last session.

The MEPC has recognized that there may be a need for future improvements to the BWM Convention in the light of experience gained.

Based on the experience and feedback gained, as well as the analysis of the data gathered, draft amendments to the Convention could be put forward for consideration at MEPC 79 (in 2022). The Committee will be updated on the status of preparations for data gathering and will consider how to provide the necessary support for the experience-building phase to be administered and executed.

With the Convention in force and the focus now on its effective and uniform implementation, including the experience-building phase, the Committee will consider how matters related to ballast water management should be addressed in a more structured way, through the establishment of clearly defined outputs to organize and prioritize further work.

MEPC 73 is expected to approve Guidance on System Design Limitations of BWM systems and their monitoring, and to consider draft Guidance on validation of the compliance of individual BWMS with regulation D-2 of the BWM Convention in conjunction with their commissioning. The inclusion of contingency measures in the ballast water management plan will also be considered.

MEPC 73 will also consider proposals for approval of BWMS that make use of Active Substances.

Use and carriage of HFO as fuel by ships in Arctic waters

​IMO has agreed that its Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) should develop a ban on HFO for use and carriage as fuel by ships in Arctic waters, based on an assessment of the impacts of such a ban. MEPC 73 will consider, with a view to approval, an appropriate impact assessment methodology process.

Currently, the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil is banned in the Antarctic under MARPOL Annex I regulation 43. It is recommended in the Polar Code that the same rules are applied in the Arctic waters.

MARPOL amendments - high-viscosity substances

​MEPC is expected to consider approving, for future adoption, draft amendments to MARPOL Annex II to strengthen, in specified sea areas, discharge requirements for tank washings containing persistent floating products with a high-viscosity and/or a high melting point that can solidify under certain conditions (e.g. certain vegetable oils and paraffin-like cargoes).

The draft amendments follow concerns about the environmental impact of permissible discharges of such products and would tighten requirements for the discharge from ships of tank washings containing such product.

Approval of guidance and other matters

Amongst other matters, the MEPC is expected to:

  • Adopt the draft 2018 Guidelines for the discharge of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) bleed-off water.
  • Approve (for adoption in 2019) draft amendments to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships carrying Dangerous
  • Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), including the draft revised chapters 17 (Summary of minimum requirements), 18 (List of products to which the code does not apply), 19 (Index of Products Carried in Bulk) and 21 (Criteria for assigning carriage requirements for products subject to the IBC Code).
  • Approve a draft MEPC circular on Guidelines for the carriage of energy-rich fuels and their blends.
  • Approve the draft part IV of the Guidelines for the use of dispersants for combating oil pollution at sea, which focuses on the sub-sea application of dispersant.
  • Approve, for subsequent adoption, draft Guidelines for the use of electronic record books under MARPOL and associated draft amendments to MARPOL and the NOX Technical Code.