IMO MEPC 80: What’s on the agenda?
The 80th session of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) will take place from 3-7 July 2023, and the entire maritime industry is holding its breath in anticipation as the MEPC is expected to adopt an upgraded IMO greenhouse gas (GHG) Strategy.
The revised IMO GHG Strategy will contain concrete greenhouse gas reduction targets for the sector and is expected to outline a basket of technical and economic measures to be developed to set global shipping on an ambitious path towards phasing out greenhouse gas emissions.
MEPC 80 highlights:
- Tackling climate change – cutting GHG emissions from ships – Including adoption of the revised IMO GHG Strategy
- Energy efficiency of ships
- Ballast water management – including approval of the Convention Review Plan and adoption of amendments to the BWM Convention
- Biofouling management – revised Guidelines
- Designation of a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area
- Underwater noise – revised guidelines
- Tackling marine litter
- Ship-to-ship transfer – proposed Assembly resolution
- Special areas – effective date for the the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden special areas under MARPOL Annexes I and V
- Other matters from the PPR Sub-committee
1- Tackling climate change – cutting GHG emissions from ships
The IMO GHG Strategy will contain concrete greenhouse gas reduction targets for the sector and is expected to outline a basket of technical and economic measures to be developed to set global shipping on an ambitious path towards phasing out greenhouse gas emissions.
IMO will also continue to support developing countries, in particular Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries, with a view to ensuring a transition to low-carbon shipping which leaves no one behind and seizing development opportunities arising from the decarbonization of the maritime sector.
IMO is also accelerating its efforts in developing the necessary safety regulatory framework allowing the safe handling of future marine fuels on board of ships.
Mid-term measures including possible technical and economic measures
The revised strategy is expected to set out the way forward for possible technical and economic measures to be further developed by IMO.
Life cycle GHG assessment guidelines set for adoption
The MEPC is expected to consider the report of the Correspondence Group on Marine Fuel Life Cycle GHG Analysis, including draft Guidelines on life cycle GHG intensity of marine fuels (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 related to the production and use of marine fuels.
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Onboard CO2 capture
The submissions include those relating to onboard carbon capture (OCC) technology and a proposal on the way forward to review the current regulatory framework and consider how to move forward to potentially accommodate onboard CO2 capture within IMO’s regulatory framework.
2- Energy Efficiency
The Committee is expected to consider and finalize draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI regarding the revision of the IMO ship fuel oil consumption Data Collection System (DCS).
Review of the short-term measure (CII and EEXI)
The MEPC is expected to consider a number of submissions which relate to the review of the CII (Carbon Intensity Indicator) regulations and guidelines, which must be completed at the latest by 1 January 2026.
3- Ballast water management – including approval of the Convention Review Plan and adoption of amendments to the BWM Convention
Implementing the BWM Convention
The MEPC is expected to discuss a number of matters relating to the implementation of the BWM Convention, including:
- Guidance on the application of the BWM Convention to ships operating in challenging water quality.
- Guidance on matters relating to ballast water record-keeping and reporting and discuss possible consequential amendments to the Guidelines (G4) and (G6).
- Guidance on the temporary storage of treated sewage and grey water in ballast tanks, and possible consequential amendments to the BWM Convention.
- Consider proposals regarding the approval of modifications to BWM systems with existing type approval.
- Approve a draft Protocol for verification of ballast water compliance monitoring devices.
- Approve a draft unified interpretation to the form of the International Ballast Water Management Certificate (IBWMC) and regulations B-3.5 and B-3.10 of the BWM Convention, regarding the “date of construction” for a ship which has undergone a major conversion in order to implement the BWM Convention.
- Approve a number of ballast water management systems which make use of Active Substances, based on the outcome of the 43rd meeting of the GESAMP Ballast Water Working Group.
4- Biofouling management – draft revised Biofouling Guidelines set for adoption
The MEPC is expected to adopt the revised Guidelines for the control and management of ships’ biofouling to minimize the transfer of invasive aquatic species (Biofouling Guidelines), following a comprehensive review of the Guidelines.
5- Designation of a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area
The MEPC is expected to designate a particular sensitive sea area in the North-Western Mediterranean Sea (NW Med PSSA) to protect cetaceans from international shipping.
6- Addressing underwater noise – revised guidelines
The MEPC is expected to approve draft revised Guidelines for the reduction of underwater noise from commercial shipping to address adverse impacts on marine life. The revised guidelines were developed by the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC 9).
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They include updated technical knowledge, including reference to international measurement standards, recommendations and classification society rules. They also provide sample templates to assist shipowners with the development of an underwater radiated noise management plan.
7- Tackling marine litter
The MEPC is expected to note and concur with the ongoing work in the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) to address the risks to the marine environment from plastic pellets.
Mandatory reporting of lost containers – draft MARPOL amendments set for approval
The MEPC will consider for approval, for subsequent adoption, draft amendments to MARPOL protocol I referring to a procedure for reporting lost freight containers.
8- Ship-to-ship transfers – proposed Assembly resolution
The Committee is expected to discuss a document aiming to raise awareness on the potential environmental risks and the consequences and concerns for the global marine pollution prevention and liability and compensation regimes relating to the increase in ship-to-ship transfers at sea. A draft Assembly resolution is proposed.
9- Special areas –effective date for the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden special areas under MARPOL Annexes I and V
The MEPC will consider establishing the effective date for the the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden special areas under MARPOL Annexes I and V, based on information provided related to the status of available necessary reception facilities for MARPOL Annexes I and V wastes and residues, covering all the ports and terminals within the areas.
10- Other matters from the PPR Sub-Committee
The MEPC is expected to:
- Adopt the 2023 Guidelines for the development of the Inventory of Hazardous Materials, following amendments to the Anti-fouling Systems (AFS) Convention to include controls on cybutryne.
- Approve the final draft of the Operational Guide on the Response to Spills of Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS). The guidance is for first responders and decision-makers in preparation for and during a maritime incident at sea or in port, when such an incident involves HNS.
- Adopt the 2023 Guidelines for thermal waste treatment devices.
- Approve draft amendments to regulation 13.2.2 of MARPOL Annex VI on a marine diesel engine replacing a steam system, with a view to adoption at MEPC 81
- Consider a draft new unified interpretation to regulations 18.5 and 18.6 of MARPOL Annex VI, for approval and inclusion in a revision of MEPC.1/Circ.795/rev.7 on unified interpretations to MARPOL Annex VI. The unified interpretation states that the Bunker Delivery Note (BDN) is acceptable in either hard copy or electronic format
- Consider a draft scope of work on the Reduction of Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions, prepared by the PPR Sub-Committee.