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Lack of definitive GHG emissions framework could harm industry reputation, says SSI

Lack of definitive GHG emissions framework could harm industry reputation, says SSI
The lack of a "definitive outcome" on GHG emissions at the IMO MEPC 69 meeting last week will “damage the industry’s reputation” and make external intervention more likely, says environment lobby Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI).

The decision by member states not to agree on a framework limiting shipping's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions potentially undermines arguments that shipping can self-regulate effectively, after its omission from climate targets under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP 21 agreement in December. “While some progress has been made, the failure to agree a process for emissions reduction puts significant pressure on generating a positive outcome at MEPC 70 in October,” said SSI ceo Alastair Fischbacher.

“The shipping industry cannot go to COP 22 in Morocco without this," he continued. "Not only will it damage the industry’s reputation, it also runs the risk of external regulators taking the matter into their own hands and circumnavigating the IMO, which no-one in the industry wants to see.”

During the meeting, the IMO agreed on a mandatory but anonymous fuel consumption reporting scheme, in which owners would provide ship consumption figures to their flag state. The measures will be used merely to calculate a total shipping industry – rather than individual shipowner – emissions figure, distinguishing them from the EU’s MRV (monitoring, reporting and verification) regulation that has already been adopted but will not be fully implemented from 2018.

SSI praised MEPC 69 for making “good progress on the agreement of the specification of this system,” however, “results will not be available for a number of years yet, potentially delaying the action required and increasing the stringency of measures that will be needed.”

The committee will table a further debate on long-term GHG objectives at MEPC 70.

"Although the debate at MEPC 69 has taken a step forward, it is not substantive enough and falls short of both external expectations and even internal ambition from a large number of the members,” Fischbacher continued. “A number of parties, including two of the three biggest flag registries, were supportive of the IMO developing a framework for emissions reduction as soon as possible. But this was not enough to counter some strong opposition to proposals and in some cases to any further work.”

“The IMO’s 2014 GHG study was conclusive that on a business as usual scenario, shipping will increase its GHG emissions output by up to 250% or nearly 3bn tonnes by 2050. We must move on from the debate about collecting data and the shipping industry’s impact on the environment, and using this as a reason to delay action. While developing a robust data collection is an important part, the IMO must actually demonstrate commitment to drive progressive change and take responsibility with the rest of the world in meeting global warming reduction targets,” Fischbacher concluded.