IMO signals progress in shipping’s decarbonization

  • April 29, 2024
  • News

The recent International Maritime Organization (IMO) Marine Environmental Protection Committee meeting, MEPC81, has injected new momentum into shipping’s decarbonisation efforts. While the meeting did not enact concrete measures, it served as a critical forum to assess member States’ commitment to the Revised GHG Strategy adopted in July 2023. According to commercial shipping advisory UMAS, the industry is moving towards a greener future, but some persistent challenges remain.

The draft Chapter 5, titled “Regulations on the IMO Net-Zero Framework,” lays the groundwork for future GHG policy options, including a Goal-based Fuel Standard, emissions trading schemes, and a potential GHG levy. This chapter received unanimous support from member States, indicating a collaborative spirit for future negotiations. However, the diversity of member States’ preferences on key measures signals a complex journey ahead, as noted by Annika Frosch, a researcher at UCL Energy Institute and consultant at UMAS.

Discussions at MEPC81 also highlighted the importance of balancing environmental and social progress, particularly regarding the debate surrounding a GHG levy. This levy could incentivize lower emissions while generating revenue for technological advancement and a fair transition for developing nations.

The IMO has committed to reaching an agreement on policy measures by April 2025, with adoption by the end of the year and regulations entering force in 2027. While delays could lead to missed opportunities, the meeting’s progress and collaborative spirit suggest that risks are decreasing.

Embracing innovation and collaboration will be crucial for the shipping industry’s transition to zero-emission fuels and propulsion technologies. Research and development in these areas are crucial, and open communication between policymakers, industry leaders, and investors will be essential for navigating the coming years.
Overall, the decisions made at MEPC81 will not only impact the shipping industry but also influence the trajectory of global sustainability for the coming years.