Shipowners Push for IMO Control of CO2


By MarEx 2015-12-01 17:19:22

As world leaders from 147 countries gather in Paris for the long-awaited UNFCCC COP 21, European shipowners have reiterated their support for the E.U. Member States’ negotiating position adopted in September.

“We fully support the idea that shipping has to contribute to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” commented Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA Secretary General, adding: “E.U. Member States gave a vote of confidence to the IMO in its ability to address as soon as possible and in an effective manner greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping. We believe this is the right approach as it would be the logical continuation of steps already taken at E.U. level. After all, the IMO is the shipping industry’s global regulator.”

The E.U. made headway towards contributing to the IMO process following the adoption of the E.U. MRV Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2015/757) on the monitoring, reporting and verification of CO2 emissions from maritime transport. The Regulation is intended to be the first step of a strategy geared towards a global solution, by helping ascertain the real contribution of shipping to global CO2 emissions, starting in 2018.

The IMO has for its part a noteworthy track record in developing technical CO2 energy efficiency measures for the maritime sector. Two such measures, the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP), both adopted in 2011, made shipping the first industrial sector to have a binding global regime in place to reduce its CO2 emissions. 

Entered into force in 2013, these measures require a gradual improvement of energy efficiency for newly built ships through intermediary targets, culminating in the requirement that all ships constructed after 2025 be 30 percent more efficient that those built in the 2000s. 

These measures also require shipowners to develop best practices and energy efficient operations. The shipping industry has strongly supported these standards, as they can provide meaningful and lasting improvements in energy efficiency and reduce the amount of fuel required for operation.


The IMO is also making good progress towards the development of global CO2 reporting system for individual ships, mirroring the E.U. MRV system. The issue of CO2 emissions reduction actually remains firmly on the IMO agenda and will be considered again at the next meeting of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee in April 2016. The shipping industry supports the establishment, as soon as possible, of a mandatory system of data collection from individual ships, understanding that the possibility of further market based measures might be revisited after an IMO analysis of the data submitted by ships.

“With the EU MRV Regulation and the efforts at IMO level, a clear course has been plotted for the shipping industry, ultimately leading to the reduction of its Green House Gas emissions,” said Benoit Loicq, Director of Maritime Safety and Environment at ECSA.

“We therefore hope that discussions in Paris will take full account of the progress made so far and will build on the work done at industry, regional and global level,” said Loicq.

Progress Made

IMO data shows that shipping has already reduced total CO2 emissions by more than 10 percent since 2007. The share of the world economy’s CO2 emissions from international shipping was just 2.2 percent in 2012 compared to 2.8 percent in 2007, while CO2 per ton of cargo transported one kilometer by sea has fallen around 20 percent in the past ten years as a result of aggressive fuel efficiency measures.

ICS Says 50 Percent by 2050

Speaking at a special shipping event at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe, highlighted the additional CO2 reductions that will be achieved in the immediate future: “Mandatory regulations already adopted by IMO will ensure that all ships built after 2025 will be at least 30 percent more efficient than ships operating today. Combined with further technical and operational measures plus new technology, international shipping should be able to reduce its CO2 per ton-kilometer by 50 percent before 2050.”

Hinchliffe added: “These dramatic further CO2 reductions will be genuine and real. We will have bigger ships, better engines, cleaner fuels and smarter speed management. The mandatory worldwide use by ships of low sulfur fuel to reduce air pollution will provide a further significant incentive to improve fuel efficiency.”

With full industry support, IMO is now developing additional global measures. The next step will be the collection of CO2 emissions data from individual ships, which the industry would like to see mandatory as soon as possible.

Growth in Maritime Trade

Hinchliffe said: “Despite further growth in maritime trade on which the prosperity of the world depends, the significant CO2 reductions achieved in recent years suggests that shipping is well on course for carbon neutral growth.”

Recent data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) makes clear that developing and developed nations are equal beneficiaries of maritime trade, which is critical to the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. ICS asserts that IMO is the only regulatory body that can ensure that future CO2 measures are implemented on a uniform and worldwide basis that will support sustainable trade and the interests of developing economies.