GREEN4SEA Conference & Awards

5 Apr 2017
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GREEN4SEA Conference & Awards

5 Apr 2017
Learn More

Interview with Edmund Hughes, IMO


Dr. Edmund Hughes, Head of Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency, Marine Environment Division of International Maritime Organization (IMO), talks about IMO’s efforts to combat GHG emissions from shipping, highlighting that industry needs to continue to support the Organization in formulating global regulations towards a more sustainable future.

GREEN4SEA: What are the key challenges concerning the reduction of the CO2 emissions for shipping industry? How do IMO’s plans differ from the EU MRV system?

Edmund Hughes: The key challenge for the shipping industry is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, through improved energy efficiency, as well as uptake of low-carbon energy. IMO has already taken regulatory steps, by adopting binding mandatory energy-efficiency measures for international shipping, which entered into force in 2013 under MARPOL Annex VI. More than 2,200 new ships have already been certified to Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) requirements, meaning they are achieving much lower greenhouse gas emissions through design, compared with a baseline of ships built earlier. And all ships have to have Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP).

IMO’s monitoring requirements, adopted in 2016, require ships of 5,000 gross tonnage and above (representing approximately 85% of total CO2 emissions from international shipping) to collect consumption data for each type of fuel oil they use, as well as other specified data.   The main difference between these monitoring requirements and the EU MRV is that the IMO regulations apply to all ships everywhere (of the required size), irrespective of their flag.  This will enable global data to be collected and analysed and provide a clear picture, to inform future, global, decision-making at IMO.

G4S: What should be the key priorities for the shipping industry in relation to GHG emissions monitoring and reporting? How IMO may be of assistance towards that end?

E.H.: The shipping industry needs to focus on preparing for mandatory MARPOL Annex VI requirements for ships to record and report fuel oil consumption data for each type of fuel oil they use, as well as other, additional, specified data including proxies for transport work. They will need to record this data from the beginning of 2019. The mandatory Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for these ships will need to include a description of the methodology used to collect the data and the processes to report the data to the flag State, which will, in turn, after the end of each calendar year, report a summary of aggregated fuel oil consumption data to IMO.

IMO has issued guidance to assist ship operators and training materials are available online. Two global capacity-building projects also serve to assist both States and industry in implementing emissions monitoring and reporting requirements. The GloMEEP project, supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and executed by IMO, is supporting 10 Lead Pilot Countries to implement the IMO-adopted energy efficiency measures.  In another project, administered by IMO with €10 million in funding from the European Union, IMO is establishing a global network of Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres (MTCCs), to help beneficiary countries limit and reduce greenhouse emissions from their shipping sectors and to promote the uptake of innovative energy-efficiency technologies and operations in maritime transport.

G4S: Now that EU voted in favor of including shipping in EU ETS, what does it mean for the industry? What could be done to harmonize diverging views towards a common framework?

E.H.: Any unilateral or regional action that conflicts with or undermines actions that have been carefully considered and deliberated by the global community at IMO can threaten world-wide confidence in the consistent, uniform system of regulation which IMO has developed to date. The shipping industry looks to IMO for consistent, globally adopted and globally applied regulations, in order to ensure a level playing field.  So, if a regional measure were to be adopted, this could impact on the development of global regulation, which is vital for the international shipping industry, A regional measure  may prove ineffective in achieving the policy goal should shipping patterns be adjusted to mitigate the regional action.

IMO provides a forum whereby all Member States can come together and work to build consensus amongst potentially divergent views. In October 2016, a “roadmap” for developing a comprehensive strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships was agreed, by consensus, by IMO Member States, including EU Member States. Meanwhile, two intersessional working group meetings on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions form ships will be convened this year, with others to follow to enable the strategy to be delivered in the timeframe agreed. The first will be held from 26-30 June 2017 and will report to the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 71), from 3-7 July. The working group is open to all IMO Member States (as well as observer delegations from international and non-governmental organizations). A fully global solution for international shipping requires input from all IMO Member States – including EU members.

G4S: What do you think may be the immediate and long term consequences of the introduction of an ETS for shipping? What shall we expect to happen? Is 2021 target set by EU sufficient for IMO to develop a competitive framework?

E.H.: The MEPC has recognized in previous discussions that a market-based reduction mechanism could serve two main purposes: the offsetting of growing ship emissions in other sectors, and the provision of incentives for the maritime industry to invest in more fuel efficient ships and to operate ships in a more energy efficient way. Market-based mechanisms, such as a global contribution scheme (levy) and a global emission trading scheme (ETS) for ships, could generate funds, which could be used for climate-related purposes, such as mitigation and adaptation activities in developing countries.

IMO Members have agreed to work on the basis of a three-step approach: collection of data on fuel oil consumption of ships; analysis of the data collected, providing the basis for an objective, transparent and inclusive policy debate in the MEPC; followed by a decision on whether any further measures are needed to enhance energy efficiency and address greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping. If so, proposed policy options would then be considered.  This approach ties in with the agreed roadmap, which foresees an initial GHG strategy adopted in 2018 and a revised strategy in 2023 to include short-, mid-, and long-term further measures, as required, with implementation schedules. These are the target dates set by IMO Members (including the EU Members).

G4S: What is your key message to the industry in general with respect to GHG emissions reduction from shipping?

E.H.: We all have a vested interest in reducing the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions. Global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping rely heavily on improvements in energy efficiency as well as increased uptake of low-carbon technologies and alternative fuels. Lower emissions come from using less fuel. So it stands to reason that apart from environmental reasons, one main driver for energy efficiency is economic; improving energy efficiency can often improve profitability for shipping companies. It is in the industry’s interest to support IMO’s regulatory work to improve energy efficiency. The key message to the industry is to continue to strive to improve shipping’s sustainability. And to continue to support IMO – through the international shipping industry bodies which have consultative status at the Organization – in formulating global regulations for global shipping.

The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of GREEN4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.

About Dr. Edmund Hughes, Head of Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency, Marine Environment Division of International Maritime Organization (IMO)

Dr. Edmund Hughes is Head, Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency in the Marine Environment Division of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations specialized agency responsible for the regulation of international shipping. As a member of the IMO Secretariat his responsibilities cover MARPOL Annex VI, the International Regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships, including regulations on energy efficiency for ships, and IMO’s work to address GHG emissions from international shipping. He is a member of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST), a Chartered Engineer, and has a doctorate from Cranfield University in the United Kingdom.

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