Maritime Body to Cap Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships

11 July 2008

The global body responsible for controlling international shipping recently set out to develop a mandatory regime for controlling greenhouse gas emissions from ships.

Meeting in Oslo, Norway, from 23-27 June, an inter-sessional Working Group on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships under the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) considered technical issues related to controlling greenhouse gas emissions from ships. The work is set to provide the foundation for political decisions to be taken at later meetings under the auspices of the IMO. The work is being undertaken on an ambitious schedule, as the IMO is planning to propose a legally-binding regime on controlling shipping emissions of greenhouse gases at the fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-15) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 2009.

At the meeting in Oslo, the experts participating shared views and information on a mandatory “CO2 Design Index” for ships, based on which operators can determine the relative carbon efficiency of a ship and calculate its emissions. Work in this area, as well as its implementation on a voluntary basis, is well established, with several countries and shipping companies already indexing their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions under an interim operational CO2 index.

The meeting also discussed international regulatory options, such as imposing a levy on CO2 emissions from the shipping sector, or developing an emissions trading scheme. These options were also recently discussed in a working group under the UNFCCC (see Bridges Trade BioRes, 13 June 2008, http://www.ictsd.org/biores/08-06-13/inbrief.htm). The IMO meeting did not take any decision or make recommendations on the politically sensitive question of whether the international regulatory scheme should apply to all ships, or only those operated by developed country parties to the UNFCCC and/or the Kyoto Protocol.

The Working Group will report back to the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee, which is scheduled to meet from 6-10 October this year in London.

ICTSD reporting; “Oslo meeting prepares ground on GHG reduction mechanisms,” IMO RELEASE, 1 July 2008.

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