THE INTERNATIONAL Chamber of Shipping and the International Bunker Industry Association have submitted a joint proposal to the International Maritime Organization for a global GHG fuel standard.

The goal of the simplified proposal – submitted to the next round of IMO negotiations in March 2024 – is to progressively reduce the GHG intensity of marine fuels and create a market for the production of zero and near-zero GHG fuels.

ICS and IBIA submitted the joint proposal following an agreement in July 2023 between IMO member states on a net zero GHG emissions target for shipping, and that a new suite of GHG reduction regulations should be adopted by 2025.

ICS and IBIA set out draft amendments to Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention in terms of maximum permitted GHG intensity of marine fuels in 2030, to be followed by an aggressive tightening of this standard in 2040.

ICS deputy secretary general Simon Bennett said the ICS recognised the importance of meeting decarbonisation targets, not only for shipping but for the world.

“Our joint proposal provides flexibility to enable compliance by ships should fuels of the required GHG intensity not always be available,” he said.

“This simplified approach avoids the need for an overly complex system, as proposed by the European Union, whereby ‘compliance units’ or ‘remedial units’ would need to be registered with or purchased from a central IMO registry.

“The proposed method of pooled compliance would be a private arrangement between shipping companies and would avoid unnecessary administrative burden for governments, including developing countries’ administrations whose support will be vital to move forward at IMO.”

Edmund Hughes, IBIA’s representative at IMO, said the bunker industry fully supports an internationally agreed GHG fuel standard for 2030.

“[This] will help to create a global market for marine fuels with a reduced GHG intensity, including sustainable biofuels largely supplied as blends which many existing ships are expected to use to enable them to comply,” he said.

“We fully agree with shipowners, as represented by ICS, that the design of the global fuel standard needs to be kept as simple as possible if, as identified by the 2023 IMO GHG Strategy, governments wish to have a workable system in place within the next 18 months, that can be uniformly and consistently implemented and that keeps the administrative burden for bunker operators and suppliers to a minimum.”

The joint proposal provides for a streamlined voluntary energy pooling compliance mechanism to address the possibility of fuel producers being unable to supply new fuels in sufficient quantities.

ICS and IBIA said this would allow for ships to continue to trade should sufficient quantities of fuels of the required GHG intensity not be made available by energy producers, but without increasing the sector’s total GHG emissions.

The IMO working group on GHG reduction in March precedes the next meeting of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 81).