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IMO environment meeting adopts mandatory energy efficiency measures for international shipping; first mandatory global GHG reduction regime for an international industry sector

Mandatory measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from international shipping were adopted by Parties to MARPOL Annex VI represented in the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), when it met for its 62nd session from 11 to 15 July 2011 at IMO Headquarters in London. These measures constitute the first mandatory global greenhouse gas reduction regime for an international industry sector.

The measures make mandatory the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships, and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for all ships. (Earlier post.) The EEDI is a non-prescriptive, performance-based mechanism that leaves the choice of technologies to use in a specific ship design to the industry. As long as the specified energy-efficiency baseline is attained, ship designers and builders would be free to use the most cost-efficient solutions for the ship to comply with the regulations.

International shipping accounts for 2.7%-3.3% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Unregulated, these emissions are expected to reach 6% of global emissions by 2020 and to double or triple by 2050.
—European environmental NGO Transport & Environment

The IMO’s Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) will require ships built between 2015–2019 to improve their efficiency by 10%, rising to 20% between 2020 and 2024, and 30% for ships delivered after 2024. However, efforts led by China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and South Africa resulted in a waiver for new ships registered in developing countries. (Earlier post.) If countries choose to apply the waiver for a newly delivered ship, application of the EEDI is delayed for 6.5 years from the 1 January 2013 entry into force of the regulation. There is a significant danger, caution environmental groups, that ship owners may elect to have their new ships flagged in countries that provide a waiver. The first guaranteed effective date of the EEDI as a global shipping efficiency standard would thus be 2019.

The SEEMP establishes a mechanism for operators to improve the energy efficiency of ships.

The measures are embodied in amendments which add a new chapter 4 to MARPOL Annex VI Regulations. Other amendments to Annex VI add new definitions and the requirements for survey and certification, including the format for the International Energy Efficiency Certificate.

The regulations apply to all ships of 400 gross tonnage and above and are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2013.

However, under regulation 19, the Administration may waive the requirement for new ships of 400 gross tonnage and above from complying with the EEDI requirements. This waiver may not be applied to ships above 400 gross tonnage for which:

  • the building contract is placed four years after the entry into force date of chapter 4;
  • the keel of which is laid or which is at a similar stage of construction four years and six months after the entry into force;
  • the delivery of which is after six years and six months after the entry into force; or
  • in cases of the major conversion of a new or existing ship, four years after the entry into force date.

Environmental NGOs further caution that because the standard only applies to ships replacing older ones at end life (typically 30 years), and because the waiver will defer implementation for many new ships, the full effects of the decision will take a long time to have any significant impact.

Promotion of technical co-operation. The new chapter includes a regulation on Promotion of technical co-operation and transfer of technology relating to the improvement of energy efficiency of ships, which requires Administrations, in co-operation with IMO and other international bodies, to promote and provide, as appropriate, support directly or through IMO to States, especially developing States, that request technical assistance.

It also requires the Administration of a Party to co-operate actively with other Parties, subject to its national laws, regulations and policies, to promote the development and transfer of technology and exchange of information to States, which request technical assistance, particularly developing States, in respect of the implementation of measures to fulfil the requirements of Chapter 4.

Work plan. The MEPC agreed a work plan to continue the work on energy efficiency measures for ships, to include the development of the EEDI framework for ship types and sizes, and propulsion systems, not covered by the current EEDI requirements and the development of EEDI and SEEMP-related guidelines.

Although not by consensus—which of course would be the ideal outcome—the Committee has now adopted amendments to MARPOL Annex VI introducing mandatory technical and operational measures for the energy efficiency of ships. Let us hope that the work to follow on these issues will enable all Members to build the consensus that evaded the Committee this time.

—IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos

Normally decisions under MARPOL are taken by consensus. The provision exists to adopt decisions by a 2/3 majority of ratifying states representing at least 50% of world maritime tonnage should consensus not be forthcoming. 64 states have ratified MARPOL. Now adopted under MARPOL, the EEDI is binding on all 180 member states of IMO—unless not less than one third (currently 22) of the 64 Parties to MARPOL Annex VI object to the decision before 01 July 2012 (the date of acceptance of the regulation.)

The new measures were approved by a majority of 48 countries in favor, 5 against and 12 abstentions.

IMO—the International Maritime Organization—is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.




I said clearly here last week to recycled the co2 expels from the chimney of these ships into methanol or green algae fuels and recycled it back at the input.

Roger Pham

Is this really necessary, or just another bureaucratic wrangling just for the sake of bureaucracy? International shipping has the most efficient engines in existence, and most efficient hull design of all marine vehicles. Profit margin is thin and is highly affected by fuel prices. How can technology be further forced on them when they are already striving for the highest efficiency?

The best bet to reduce GHG from marine shipping is to limit globalization. Encourage each country to foster its local production.


Roger's right, ships ARE already striving for the highest efficiency to reduce their costs. Of far greater concern to me is their other way of reducing costs, the use of cheap polluting fuels. Bunker oil is literally the bottom of the barrel; the only things more dense than bunker fuel are carbon black feedstock and bituminous residue which is used for paving roads (asphalt) and sealing roofs.


So are all OIL firms? Give them a break too.


Per the Europeans, shipping accounts for about 3% of global GHG emissions.

And the most logical outcome from this appears to be nil, except maybe new ships will be flagged in countries that do not comply.

It is no wonder so many consider the UN as usually ineffective or even a negative force.


Stupidity. Rank Stupidity by Green loons. The MARPOL Annes IV amednsments for cleaner shipping toxic emissions made sense.

But this CO2 nonsense is pure useless stupidity to drive manufactuing out of the developed world, for no good reason.

Furthermore, it will undermine support for legitimate emissions control.


Er, nothing in this story is about GHG except the Hill & Knowlton (PR Agency) written headline.

"The measures make mandatory the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships, and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for all ships. "

So yeah, ships should turn off their big engines in ports and tie in to shore power. No more bunker fuel. End of story. NOTHING to do with CO2! Or GHG. Which has been dead since Cancun nailed the coffin shut.

Henry Gibson

Ships are already far more efficient than automobiles for net ton miles delivered. The new large engines already exceed the well to kilowatt-hour efficiencies of all fuel cells, and the fuel is far cheaper. Kanute was the historical and perhaps mythical example of legislating natural forces, but the tide still did come in. ..HG..


I said clearly here last week

A D no one cares what you say, now be quiet.

Alex Kovnat

If reducing carbon dioxide from ships is that important, than let's build nuclear powered merchant ships.


let's build nuclear powered merchant ships.

That's fine...as long as their trade routes don't take them anywhere near the Somali coast. We wouldn't want pirates selling off nuclear material on the black market.

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