MEPC81: Key IMO Committee to Shape Direction of Shipping GHG Strategy

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Monday March 18, 2024

Support for a straightforward levy on bunker fuel -- referred by some as a tax on the amount of carbon per metric tonne of fuel used by ships -- is gaining ground at the International Maritime Organisation although arriving at a consensus on how shipping's greenhouse gas emissions are to be curtailed remains some way off.

The working group on GHG emissions (ISWG) will report to the marine environment protection committee (MEPC81) on March 18 with the way forward becoming clearer by the end of the week.

Measures to address shipping's emissions fall under economic, that is some sort of levy on emissions produced by bunker fuel, and technical as in related to fuel standards.

Among the proposals up for discussion is one from the Marshall Islands, Vanuatu and others for $150 per metric tonne levy on carbon dioxide from ships. Another submission backed by the European Union, Japan and the International Chamber of Shipping among others is to combine economic and technical measures.

A proposal backed by South American states as well as others would like to see fines for breaking set limits on global fuel emissions intensity as the way forward on limiting emissions from ships.

MEPC81 has been convened at a time when alternative bunker fuels are gaining visibility. One question to be raised by the bunker industry at MEPC81 concerns the carriage of biofuels by bunker barges operating in port. 

While the use of biofuels is supported by the rules, biofuels over B25 (where blended fuel has more than 25% biofuel) are categorized as hazardous liquids thereby restricting their transport.

The International Bunkering Industry Association has submitted a paper to the committee to raise awareness of the issue as "a potential impediment to the global adoption of biofuels as fuel oil for ships".