MEPC 80: A Milestone for Reducing GHG Emissions from Shipping. The 80th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 80) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) was held from 3 to 7 July 2023 in London. The meeting was attended by representatives from IMO member states, industry associations, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders. The main agenda item was the adoption of the revised IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships, which sets out enhanced targets and measures to tackle climate change and align shipping with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 80)
The MEPC 80 session adopted the 2023 IMO GHG Strategy by consensus, after several months of negotiations and consultations. The revised strategy includes an enhanced common ambition to reach **net-zero GHG emissions from international shipping close to 2050**, a commitment to ensure an uptake of alternative zero and near-zero GHG fuels by 2030, as well as indicative check-points for 2030 and 2040.
The revised strategy represents a significant acceleration of the reduction of emissions compared to the initial strategy adopted in 2018, which required a 50% reduction by 2050 compared to 2008 levels. The new strategy also includes a carbon intensity reduction target of at least **40% by 2030** and **70% by 2040**, compared to 2008 levels, as well as an absolute GHG emissions reduction target of at least **20% by 2030** and **30-70% by 2040**, compared to 2008 levels.
The revised strategy also reaffirms the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC), in light of different national circumstances, as well as the need for a comprehensive impact assessment of candidate measures, taking into account their environmental, social and economic implications.
The revised strategy is expected to provide a clear signal and direction for the development and deployment of low- and zero-carbon technologies and fuels, as well as for further regulatory actions by IMO. The strategy will be reviewed periodically, taking into account the latest scientific information, technological developments and best practices.
Other Outcomes from MEPC 80
In addition to the adoption of the revised GHG strategy, MEPC 80 also made progress on other topics related to the protection of the marine environment, such as:
– Adopting guidelines on life cycle GHG intensity of marine fuels, which allow for a well-to-wake calculation of total GHG emissions related to the production and use of marine fuels.
– Approving interim guidance on the use of biofuels under MARPOL Annex VI regulations on data collection system (DCS) and carbon intensity indicator (CII).
– Agreeing on terms of reference for a future intersessional working group on GHG emissions reduction measures, as well as the next steps for a comprehensive impact assessment.
– Approving draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI on fuel oil related issues, such as sulphur content, flashpoint and verification procedures.
– Adopting amendments to the guidelines on survey and certification of the energy efficiency design index (EEDI) and the guidelines on shaft/engine power limitation system to comply with the EEXI requirements.
– Approving draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI in relation to the IMO ship fuel oil consumption data collection system (DCS).
– Adopting amendments to the ballast water management convention, including a convention review plan and revised guidelines on ballast water exchange.
– Adopting revised guidelines on biofouling management, which provide updated recommendations on how to prevent, minimize and control the transfer of invasive aquatic species through biofouling.
– Adopting revised guidelines on underwater noise from commercial shipping, which provide voluntary technical and operational measures to reduce underwater radiated noise from ships.
– Designating a particularly sensitive sea area (PSSA) in the north-western Mediterranean Sea to protect cetaceans from threats such as ship strikes, noise pollution and habitat degradation.
– Approving a draft resolution on ship-to-ship transfer operations involving oil or other hazardous substances in areas under national jurisdiction.
– Agreeing on an effective date for the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden special areas under MARPOL Annexes I and V, which will require stricter discharge standards for oil and garbage from ships in these regions.
– Continuing work on marine litter prevention, including carriage requirements for plastic pellets and reporting mechanisms for lost containers.
MEPC 80 was a landmark meeting for IMO and the shipping industry, as it adopted a revised GHG strategy that sets out ambitious targets and measures to decarbonize international shipping and align it with the Paris Agreement goals. The meeting also delivered on other important topics related to the protection of the marine environment, such as energy efficiency, air pollution prevention, ballast water management, biofouling management, underwater noise reduction, PSSA designation, ship-to-ship transfer operations and marine litter prevention. MEPC 80 demonstrated IMO’s commitment and leadership in addressing the environmental challenges and opportunities facing the maritime sector in the 21st century.