Report of the 79th session of the Committee on Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 79)

By Lars Lange, Secretary General, IUMI

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) addresses environmental issues under the IMO’s remit, including air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. The 79th session of the Committee (MEPC 79) met from 12 to 16 December 2022. Dr Harry Conway from Liberia chaired the meeting. The most pressing issue on the agenda is the decarbonisation of shipping.


Tackling climate change - cutting GHG emissions from ships

The Initial IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Shipping was adopted in 2018, setting a pathway to the decarbonisation of international shipping.  On 1 November 2022, the "short-term measure" to reduce ships' carbon intensity came into force, introducing the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI); the annual operational carbon intensity indicator (CII) rating and an enhanced Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP).


Revision of the initial IMO GHG Strategy

At MEPC 77, Member States agreed to initiate the revision process of the Initial IMO GHG Strategy towards adopting a strengthened revised strategy in mid-2023 at MEPC 80.

The Committee reaffirmed its commitment to adopting a revised IMO GHG Strategy, including a strengthened level of ambition by MEPC 80. Furthermore, to continue identifying the candidate GHG reduction measures to be developed in priority as part of a set of measures consisting of technical and economic elements by MEPC 80. Also, to undertake a comprehensive impact assessment of the candidate measures ahead of their adoption. MEPC 80 (3 to 7 July 2023) is expected to adopt the revised IMO Strategy for reducing GHG Emissions from ships.


Revised resolutions

The MEPC adopted revised resolutions on voluntary cooperation with ports and national action plans. This includes an invitation to the Member States to encourage voluntary collaboration between the port and the shipping sectors, including contributing to reducing GHG emissions from ships. This is done by facilitating voluntary cooperation through the whole value chain, including ports, to create favourable conditions to reduce GHG emissions from ships through shipping routes and maritime hubs. The Member States are further encouraged to develop and submit voluntary national action plans (NAPs) to address GHG emissions from ships.


Mid-term measures

The MEPC 76 session adopted a concrete work plan on the way forward, making progress with candidate mid- and long-term measures. These include measures to incentivise a move from fossil fuels to low- and zero-carbon fuels to decarbonise international shipping. The Intersessional working group on the Reduction of GHG Emissions reported on its progress regarding further development of a "basket of candidate mid-term measures". This will integrate both various technical (for example, a GHG fuel intensity standard and/or enhancement of IMO's carbon intensity measures) and economic (for example, a "levy", a "reward", "feebate" or "flat rate contribution") elements to be further developed as a priority after MEPC 80.


Life Cycle GHG assessment guidelines (LCA Guidelines)

The MEPC considered the Correspondence Group on Marine Fuel Life Cycle GHG Analysis interim report. The Committee agreed to updated terms of reference for the correspondence group. It is expected to submit its final report to MEPC 80, including the draft LCA guidelines for consideration and adoption. The draft LCA guidelines will allow for a well-to-wake calculation, including well-to-tank and tank-to-wake emission factors, of total GHG emissions relating to the production and use of marine fuels.


Revision of the IMO Fuel Consumption Monitoring Data Collection System (IMO DCS)

ISWG-GHG 13 (Intersessional Working Group on Green House Gas Emissions from Ships which gathers between MEPC meetings) discussed a proposal for the future revision of the IMO data collection system of annual fuel consumption, looking into possible future changes to the reporting module. This includes enhanced transparency and additional reporting parameters. MEPC 79 noted the broad support by the group to the proposal of having data on transport work, the possible use of innovative technologies and the granularity of reported data. Interested member states and international organisations were invited to investigate technical and practical implications further.

The DCS is the basis for assessing GHG emissions used by signatories to the Poseidon Principles for Marine Insurance.

A full report of the MEPC 79 is available here.