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IMO sets out its stall on climate change ahead of Copenhagen

IMO sets out its stall on climate change ahead of Copenhagen

Oslo: Secretary general Efthimios Mitropoulos provided an update on IMO's deliberations of the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for shipping during the opening session of Nor-Shipping and in follow-up remarks to press, stressing that the organisation had to tread carefully on such a complex matter .

"We are seeking solutions that are realistic, pragmatic, workable, cost effective and well-balanced and, in the case of maket-based mechanisms, also easy to administer... which explains why it takes time to reach decisions." he said.

Mitorpoulos informed that IMO's forthcoming MEPC (Marine Environmental Protection Committe) 59 meeting in July would seek to establish the requirement for a mandatory Energy Efficiency Index (EEDI)  and Ship Energy Management Plan (SEMP) for all ships, as well as establishing the basis for a voluntary Energy Efficiency Operational Indicator. 

With such progress achieved, IMO hopes that it will be given free rein to implement global regulation on shipping GHG emissions at  the forthcoming UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting to take place in Copenhagen in December, tasked with drawing up a successor to the Kyoto Proticol from 2012 onwards. Necesary for this talk would be the removal - at least as far as shipping is concerned - of the curent exemption (under Kyoto) for developing countries.

As regards discussion at MEPC of possible inclusion of market-based instruments in any IMO regulatory package, Mitropoulos said he thought it would be unwise to favour any one particular solution -  such as an emissions trading scheme (ETS) or a bunker levy - ahead of Copenhagen. This despite the admission from fellow panellist  Dimitri Giatkos, representing  the Environmental division of the European Commission, that a global ETS would be the 'clear preference' of the EC.

After the session, Intertanko managing director Dr Peter Swift expressed his body's support for IMO, and called for it to go one step further. Ships should not only be requied to conform to a relative energy efficiency measurement system, he said - perhaps with rating bands that could be marked on their hulls "a bit like refrigerators" -  but also absolute energy targets should be set for newbuildings. These targets  expressed in the form of grammes of CO2 per tonne-mile - could be progressively reduced, he suggested, thereby alleviating the need for any market based instrument such as emissions trading.

Sceptics continue to believe that despite its best effots the IMO risks being 'timed out' on the GHG issue, however, and that measures will be imposed on shipping from outside. This  impresson was reinforced  by news that the EC has already tasked a  working group to draw up a contingency plan on including shipping within an ETS should no aceptable IMO agreement be forthcoming within the forseeable future. Mitropoulos said he saw this EC action as "a pledge of preparedness, not an ultimatum."  [10/06/09]