IMO steps on road to international CO2 monitoring

CO2 emissions from the entire international fleet will now also be monitored. A reporting scheme is underway in coming years, but several questions remain unclarified. And the decision regarding wastewater in the Baltic has also fallen into place.
Photo: Ultrabulk
Photo: Ultrabulk

Following the meeting of the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) in London last week, carriers can now look forward to registering how much CO2 their ships emit going forward.

The committee reached agreement on developing a data collection system to register CO2 emissions from ships across the globe. The data collection will happen in similar fashion to the MRV (Monitor, Report, Verify) scheme that has already been adopted for implementation in the EU from 2018. However, the international data collection scheme is still very much on the drawing board, unlike the EU scheme. Ahead of the next MEPC meeting in eight months, it will be discussed whether transport work should be included in the data collection scheme; this concerns whether the system will register how much CO2 the ships emit in relation to transported volumes. Another topic of discussion will focus on whether this data collection should be anonymous, and whether to make it mandatory or voluntary.

Efforts underway

In spite of the fact that this does not, for now, represent a fully fixed CO2 monitoring agreement, the Danish Shipowners' Association is still pleased that the efforts to reduce CO2 globally are finally underway.

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"The IMO decision represents a step in the right direction. Danish shipowners have for a long time been calling for increased transparency concerning shipping's CO2 emissions in order to demonstrate that shipping is the most environmentally friendly way to transport goods around the world. And in this regard, transport work represents a key factor, as it enables us to show that the ships are becoming increasingly efficient, even though more and more goods are transported due to the growth in global trade," Jesper Stubkjær, chief consultant at the Danish Shipowners' Association, tells ShippingWatch, adding:

"The IMO will now discuss the specific details of this monitoring scheme, with the goal of securing a uniform system for the whole world, as well as ensuring anonymous treatment of submitted data."

Pressure from the EU

The decision to introduce a European MRV scheme, set for implementation in 2018, was finalized in late April. A delegation from the EU Parliament participated in the MEPC meeting in an effort to push for international CO2 monitoring, as many of the world's biggest and European carriers are worried about regional legislation.

EU Parliament member for the European Green Party, Belgian Bas Eickhout, participated in the MEPC meeting, and in this regard he told ShippingWatch the following:

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"It's good to be present at the meeting, but I'm not optimistic. My impression is that the international shipping industry is always looking for excuses to justify its actions. This is somewhat disappointing, as I believe the industry would benefit a great deal from more transparency in this regard. I hope that the IMO process will move forward quickly, because international monitoring is inevitable."

Protecting the Baltic Sea from wastewater

Another key topic on the MEPC agenda concerned the release of sewage wastewater from ship sailing in the Baltic Sea. The region has previously been classified as a so-called protected area, but this has not resulted in any consequences. Until now.

"At MEPC-68, eight Baltic Sea states (Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden) submitted a notice stating that receiving facilities were available, and with a request to have protection - a ban against releasing untreated wastewater - come into force in their respective parts of the Baltic Sea, effective from June 2019 for new vessels and June 2021 for existing vessels. The last Baltic Sea state - Russia - opted not to take part in the joint notice, as the country was not convinced that the necessary receiving facilities were available in the Baltic Sea ports, and Russia also felt that there was not yet a sufficient number of functional wastewater treatment systems available," explains Henrik Hagen Olsen, head of the Danish MEPC delegation and Chief of Staff at the Danish Environmental Protection Agency.

These are the points of contention for the MEPC

Russia's opposition caused quite a stir, but the application from the eight countries was accepted, and the MEPC is now continuing work on a proposal aimed at clarifying the necessary changes needed to make the wastewater protection come into force.

"It is of course regrettable that not all the Baltic Sea states decided to be part of it this time around, but we can be pleased that it now looks like we'll start work on efforts to protect the Baltic Sea against untreated wastewater," Henrik Hagen Olsen told ShippingWatch.

Ballast water dragging out, Polar Code ready, global sulfur regulations underway

This week and last week, ShippingWatch has reported on the various decisions reached by the MEPC in London last week. Key points include the final adoption of the Polar Code and the settling of a definition for black carbon. The MEPC also launched efforts to map the possibilities of implementing global sulfur regulations from 2020. However, the ballast water convention only made baby steps, a great disappointment to suppliers in the industry.

Get an overview of the other environmental decisions here:

IMO moves forward with global sulfur requirements

Ballast water hinges on several wild cards 

Slow ballast water ratification could disrupt innovation 

The IMO's official summary from the MEPC also outlines the various decisions:

Read the IMO summary of the MEPC68 here

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