Denmark’s Maritime Authority says that the recent round of negotiations on CO2 emissions at the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee’s 61st session were “lengthy and difficult. A number of countries tried to have some of the committee’s previous decisions in this field overturned, however without any success. But this made any progress in developing specific regulatory measures difficult.
Says DMA: “It was expected beforehand that the discussions … would be particularly challenging … not least because a number of countries, including Denmark, wanted to have new regulations on the energy efficiency design index approved. On the other side were a number of countries, headed by China, India, Saudi Arabia and Brazil, which repeated that the work carried out in the IMO was subject to the principles of the UNFCCC and that it was not possible to impose binding regulations for reducing the shipping industry’s CO2 emissions on developing countries.
”The Secretary-General urged the Committee to seek consensus in this field and made it clear that time should not be spent considering what measures could be developed in other fora, but that the IMO should act on its own. The Secretary-General was of the opinion that shipping could not be considered an “alternative source of financing” under the Copenhagen Accord, especially because the IMO already had a comprehensive policy aimed at helping developing countries meet international maritime legislation.
”The majority of the Committee kept to the decisions made previously, viz. that IMO regulations must apply to all ships regardless of flag. The session was, moreover, characterized by very long, political statements that, to a high degree, tried to connect the process of the UNFCCC with the IMO’s handling of the complex of problems. This meant that there was very limited time for discussing the substance of the various proposals.
“It was not possible to establish the EEDI working group until Tuesday evening, among other things because a number of countries once again problematized the Committee’s decision to use MARPOL, Annex VI, for implementing the energy efficiency design index. Though the reference to MARPOL, Annex VI, was removed from the mandate of the working group, the majority of the Committee confirmed the decision made previously to use MARPOL, Annex VI.
“During the short time available for the EEDI working group, it succeeded once again – despite opposition – in creating progress. The working group finalised a proposal for regulations on the energy efficiency design index for new ships.
“The proposal made ambitious reduction requirements on new ships for the types of ships that emitted the major part of the shipping industry’s CO2. During the period 2013-2025, these ships were thus to reduce their emissions gradually by, respectively, 0, 10, 20 and 30 per cent in relation to the average emitted by existing ships of the same type.
“In addition, the working group finalised the guidelines for calculating reference lines for use of the energy efficiency design index as well as guidelines for the survey and certification of the energy efficiency design index.
“When the working group had drawn up its report, it continued adjusting the guidelines for calculating the attained energy efficiency design index. The result of these discussions will be included in a correspondence group that was to finalise the work prior to MEPC 62.
“The plenary’s discussion of the energy efficiency design index became extremely difficult. A group of countries could not accept the inclusion of these requirements in MARPOL, Annex VI, or them becoming binding for developing countries. Furthermore, this group wanted the issue to be coupled with the transfer of technology and financing. This was this group’s usual approach from the UNFCCC negotiations, where regulations are made according to a country approach, while the IMO regulates ships.
A number of parties to the MARPOL Convention, Annex VI, including Denmark, stated that they wanted the regulations approved and circulated with a view to adoption at a coming session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee. However, the Committee did not succeed in reaching agreement or taking a decision on this.
“Consequently, the conclusion was that one or more parties could use their right to request the Secretary-General to circulate the amendments. Following these negotiations, it was in the air that a number of countries would coordinate such a request.
“At the meeting, the majority confirmed the work plan adopted in 2009 on the development of a market-based instrument in the IMO: On the basis of a report from the Secretary-General’s expert group, which had evaluated the proposed market-based instruments before the meeting, the Committee discussed how to work on.
A few countries found that all the proposals to be debated were insufficient since they did not consider the principles of the UNFCCC. But the majority found that the report provided sufficient knowledge to, among other things, let the submitters develop the proposals further. Consequently, it was decided to have an extraordinary working group meeting in the spring of 2011, which should, in accordance with the work plan, help the Committee make a decision in 2011 on what proposal should become reality.
“The discussions on the mandate of the working group’s work were difficult, but the committee succeeded in agreeing on a mandate according to which the working group was, among other things, to discuss the need for and the purpose of a market-based instrument. In addition, the working group should try to group the proposals submitted according to the common characteristics they might have. The working group’s work would be presented to MEPC 62 for decision.”