IMO MEPC75: Higher ambitions for reducing GHG emissions from shipping are needed to deliver on Green Deal ambitions in the maritime sector and in ports
On 17 November, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC75) gave preliminary approval to the compromise agreement for the package of technical and operational measures to address greenhouse gas emissions from ships in the short run.
The agreed package combines the introduction of the Energy Efficiency Existing Ships Index (EEXI), the Carbon Intensity Indicators (CII) operational measure, the Carbon Intensity rating mechanism, as well as the strengthening of the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) framework.
The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) sees the agreement as a first step, but stresses the need for higher ambitions on the international level in order to reach the 2018 IMO targets and the ambitions of the European Green Deal.
ESPO however believes that the 2018 IMO CO2 target is possibly not ambitious enough in light of the European Green Deal objective of no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050, and the higher EU targets for 2030. Europe’s ports therefore support the EU approach to closely monitor and evaluate whether sufficient progress is being made on the international level by 2023. ESPO hopes that the IMO will deliver by 2023 and calls for renewed efforts to agree on more ambitious market-based measures at the next meeting of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC76).
ESPO considers last week's IMO agreement as a starting point for more ambitious measures on the global level. But to ensure the robustness and effectiveness of the agreed mechanisms, the upcoming implementing work should be made as strict as possible in terms of enforcement. Together with the International Association for Ports and Harbours (IAPH), ESPO regrets that the agreed package settles for lower ambitions as concerns the scope, enforcement, and reduction factors of the measures.
As already pointed out in its position on the European Green Deal, ESPO reiterates its support for the Initial IMO GHG Strategy. However, to deliver on its goals, coming discussions on mid- and long-term measures must provide for higher ambitions through robust and enforceable policies. Since there is no time to waste, proposals for an international market-based measure should be developed. Other measures that do not constitute a market-based measure such as the existing proposal for an International Maritime Research and Development Board can be considered in parallel.
ESPO recognises that a global approach is preferable, given the international nature of the shipping sector. All efforts should go towards finding such an approach in order to minimise potential market distortions to the highly international maritime sector. However, if a sufficiently ambitious approach fails to materialise on the international level by 2023, ESPO favours a regional measure that ensures real and significant emission reductions and delivers on the European Green Deal, whilst accounting for potential market distortions on the regional level. Regional measures should be designed in such a way that they can be extended or replicated on the global level. Such regional proposals must also be thoroughly examined in view of safeguarding the competitiveness of the EU port sector.
The greening of shipping is the priority for European ports. Whereas this is in the first place the responsibility of the shipping sector, ports can be a key strategic partner in helping shipping decarbonise, and in delivering on ambitions on the international and European level. To this end, links need to be made with the ship-shore interface and the bunkering of low and zero carbon fuels in particular, and funding allocated to research supporting innovation in bunkering of those fuels. At the same time, ports themselves remain committed to greening their own fleets and operations within their own remit.
Delivering on the European Green Deal will require significant public and private investments at European level. European legislation must therefore provide the appropriate financial incentives to enable the decarbonisation of the maritime sector and help the ports in their role as facilitator.
 In March 2018, the Members States in the IMO agreed to reduce the GHG emissions from ships by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 whilst pursuing efforts towards phasing them out.