THE INTERNATIONAL Maritime Organization at MEPC 81 appears to have made progress on a plan to reduce further emissions from shipping.

The IMO Maritime Environment Protection Committee met in London for its 81st session from 18 to 24 March 2024, where the IMO agreed on a possible structure for a net-zero framework.

IMO believes that crafting “a possible draft outline” for the framework is a step forward in the legal process of adopting mid-term GHG reduction measures. The organisation expects those global regulations help reach targets outlined in the 2023 IMO Strategy on the Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships.

“The draft outline illustration of a possible IMO net-zero framework lists regulations under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which will be adopted or amended to allow for a new global fuel standard and a new global pricing mechanism for maritime GHG emissions,” IMO said.

These may include a proposed new Chapter 5 of MARPOL Annex VI containing regulations on the IMO net-zero framework, to include a goal-based marine fuel standard regulating the phased reduction of the marine fuel’s GHG intensity; and an economic mechanism to incentivise the transition to net-zero.

“The goal-based marine fuel standard and pricing mechanism are mid-term GHG reduction measures specified in the revised IMO Strategy … adopted in July 2023,” IMO said.

“Several different proposals of what these measures should entail are currently being considered. “

The International Chamber of Shipping said about 60 member states at MEPC 81 supported a system the ICS proposed in February for a flat-rate contribution per tonne of GHG.

The stated purpose of the proposed system is to reduce the cost gap and incentivise the accelerated uptake of green marine fuels, as well as to support emissions reduction efforts in developing countries.

“We have gained a better understanding of the concerns of those governments who still have questions about our proposed feebate mechanism,” ICS said in a statement.

“ICS will seek to address these concerns with all governments before the next round of IMO negotiations in September, to help ensure that the necessary regulatory framework can be adopted next year, for global implementation by 2027.”

While the contribution system received wide support from member states, a proposed resolution clarifying the current status of the Carbon Intensity Indicator rating system did not, according to the ICS.

The ICS was a co-sponsor of the resolution, and said it was disappointed it did not receive sufficient support from member states.

“However, we were heartened to see wide acknowledgement of the need to address the irregularities that have emerged,” ICS said.

“This heightened awareness is a positive outcome for the ongoing CII review as it is vital we have a workable system to ensure the industry reduces emissions.

“ICS trusts that all delegations can work towards an improved CII system that incentivises correct behaviours and fully aligns with the objectives of the 2023 IMO GHG Strategy.”

The World Shipping Council said its WSC Green Balance Mechanism, an approach to GHG pricing designed to bridge the gap between fossil fuels and green fuels, had been “positively received” at MEPC 81.

The next MEPC meeting is scheduled for 30 September to 4 October this year.

“As we all prepare for the MEPC 82 meeting in September, it is essential that the work on technical and financial measures is undertaken with a clear focus on how they will deliver on our shared target of decarbonisation,” WSC said.

“A fuel standard must be carefully tailored to align with emission targets using a full lifecycle perspective, providing a clear pathway to ensure it drives meaningful change rather than locking in interim solutions.

“We look forward to the MEPC 82 in September and are eager to progress the development of a fuel standard and a financial measure, ensuring that regulations are approved as scheduled in 2025, with implementation slated for 2027.”