IMO’s MEPC 77 avoids the tough stuff

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Image: International Maritime Organization

Last week’s meeting of the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC 77) once again demonstrated that the IMO is too often a place where dreams go to die and where ambitions wilt.

Notably, the committee failed to carry a resolution increasing shipping’s GHG reduction ambition to net-zero carbon by 2050. And it kicked the can further down the road on the industry plan for a $5 billion R&D fund.

“We are disappointed that the words and commitments made by governments at COP26 have not yet been translated into action,” said Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping. “It’s almost as if COP26 never happened. “This week’s meetings have missed the opportunity to take forward a range of GHG reduction measures which would accelerate the development of zero emissions ships that are urgently needed at scale to decarbonize our sector.

“Governments can’t keep kicking the can down the road; every delay moves us further away from reaching pressing climate goals. We will continue to work with governments to agree to the suite of measures which the industry has proposed, including the $5 billion dollar R&D fund as an immediate step to be followed by a levy based carbon price for shipping. The adoption of both these measures will be the only way to deliver on net zero emissions from shipping by 2050 while ensuring an equitable transition that leaves no one behind.”

“The IMO Maritime Research Fund is the only proposal on the table ready for immediate agreement,” said Platten. “If it is not taken forward soon, we fear this will signal to the world, following COP 26, that IMO is no longer truly serious about maintaining its leadership on GHG issues and that others may then move in to fill the vacuum.”


“We can talk all we want about the ambitions for 2050, but unless we put initiatives to drive real progress in place, we are not going to get there,” said John Butler, president and CEO of the World Shipping Council, ‘WSC members are among the carriers exploring and investing in alternative technologies and solutions, but this will not be enough to change the entire industry. It also risks leaving some countries, sectors, and companies behind. A global industry is dependent on global infrastructures and global market-based measures to drive change.

“Our appeal to political leaders and regulators is to not get stuck in a cycle of ambition bidding, but to take action for inclusive change in the shipping industry. Whilst we are disappointed there was no decision, the MEPC 77 saw a notable increase in the number of nations supporting the establishment of an industry-financed research fund, pushing $5 billion into R&D towards zero-GHG technologies that will be available to all nations. The initiative is ready to launch, has support from the Green Climate Fund, and we will keep supporting member nations working for a positive resolution at MEPC 78.”


So what did MEPC 77 actually achieve? There was indeed progress on a large number of issues, ABS has produced a brief that provides an overview of the more significant ones.

You can download it now.

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