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Friday, July 16, 2021 

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is marking a decade of action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions from shipping, since the first set of international mandatory measures to improve ships' energy efficiency was adopted on 15 July 2011, as part of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).

To support the implementation of the measures and encourage innovation, IMO has been implementing a comprehensive capacity building and technical assistance programme, including a range of global projects. These include the GEF-UNP-IMO GloMEEP Project (now concluded), the European Union funded global network of maritime technology cooperation centres (GMN project), the IMO-Norway GreenVoyage2050 project and the IMO-Republic of Korea GHG SMART Project. 

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said: "In July 2011, the first set of mandatory measures to improve the energy efficiency of new build ships was adopted, fundamentally changing the baseline for the performance of the incoming global fleet in terms of emission reduction. The pace of regulatory work to address GHG emissions from shipping has continued within the framework of the IMO Initial Strategy for reducing GHG emissions from shipping, and most recently with the adoption of further, key short-term measures aimed at cutting the carbon intensity of all ships - new build and existing ships - by at least 40% by 2030, compared to the 2008 baseline, in line with the initial strategy ambitions. The package of mandatory measures combined with implementation support sets shipping on a pathway to decarbonization. There is more work to do, but we have solid foundations, which is contributing to the global fight against climate change."

The issue of controlling air pollution from ships - in particular, noxious gases from ships' exhausts was discussed at IMO as early as the 1970s, but drew more attention in 1988 when the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) agreed to include the issue of air pollution in its work programme. In 1991, IMO adopted Assembly Resolution A.719(17) on Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships. The Resolution called on the MEPC to prepare a new draft Annex to MARPOL on prevention of air pollution.

At the 1997 MARPOL Conference, IMO adopted MARPOL Annex VI on regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships. This resolution invited the MEPC to consider what CO2 reduction strategies might be feasible in light of the relationship between CO2 and other atmospheric and marine pollutants. The resolution also invited IMO, in cooperation with the UNFCCC, to undertake a study of CO2 emissions from ships for the purpose of establishing the amount and relative percentage of CO2 emissions from ships as part of the global inventory of CO2 emissions.

On 15 July 2011, MARPOL Annex VI Parties adopted mandatory energy efficiency regulations for ships – Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships, Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for all ships. This represented the first set of mandatory energy efficiency measures for any transport sector. Since their adoption, further amendments have been adopted to strengthen the EEDI requirements, particularly for certain ship types.

Since then, the regulatory framework has expanded, to include, among other measures, the mandatory IMO Data Collection System (DCS) for ships, the Initial Strategy on the reduction of GHG emissions from shipping, and key short-term measures aimed at cutting the carbon intensity of all ships by at least 40% by 2030, in line with the ambitions set out in the IMO Initial Strategy. These latest measures combine technical and operational approaches, namely the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and annual operational carbon intensity indicator (CII) and rating.

IMO believes that shipping will need new technologies, new fuels and innovation to meet the GHG targets. There needs to be investment in R&D, infrastructure and trials. A range of IMO-executed projects are focusing on supporting developing countries to implement the MARPOL Annex VI energy efficiency measures and promote trials and training.

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