IMO meetings are normally held at the UN body's London headquarters. Image Credit: Ship & Bunker
International Maritime Organization (IMO) delegates may determine a large slice of future bunker fuel demand this week as a key working group meets to set greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction measures.
The IMO's Intersessional Working Group on Reducing GHGs From Ships is meeting online to examine binding short-term measures that could be used to start putting the shipping industry on the path towards decarbonisation.
A compromise that has won significant support would involve holding ships to both operational and technical carbon intensity requirements as a means of reducing their emissions. The basis for it would be the Energy Efficiency for Existing Ships Index (EEXI) devised by Japan, which seeks to measure vessels' performance.
But a study from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) found this measure would only deliver emissions savings of 0.8-1.6% over the next decade.
"It still is not very effective at reducing absolute emissions from the fleet," Dan Rutherford, program director for marine and aviation at the ICCT, said last week.
"Accordingly, a mandatory and stringent operational goal-based measure that targets the potential of further short-term speed reduction is likely to be more effective than the EEXI."
One factor adding more urgency to IMO discussions on this subject is the looming threat of the European Union adding shipping to its emission trading system if it does not see enough progress in maritime decarbonisation at the global level.
This week the European delegations at the IMO are reported to be arguing for more polluting ships to be scrapped if they do not comply with the new efficiency standards by 2029.
Any measure agreed at the working group this week would be sent to the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting in November for approval, and then to next year's MEPC meeting for adoption.