Are There More MARPOL Regulations and Reporting on the Way?

It is getting to that time again when the subject of climate change and what needs to be done about it will be filling the headlines. This year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference is set to be held in Paris from November 30 to December 11.

To its credit, the maritime industry (through the work done by the IMO) has already put in place many measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There is the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships, and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for all ships. In fact the maritime industry is one of the few industries which that can hold up its hand and say that it has taken note of the concerns with regard to climate change, and has actually taken positive steps to do something about it.

Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78) was first adopted back in 1997, and entered into force in May 2005. The Annex applies to all ships, although certification is dependent on the size and date of construction of the vessel. Ships of 400 gross tons and above which fly the flag of a state having ratified the Convention, or are engaged in international voyages to countries that have ratified the convention, are required to have an International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate (IAPP Certificate).

Various countries including the EU and its Member States have been ardent supporters of the IMO’s efforts to reduce emissions. EU regulation 2015/757 deals with the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from maritime transport, and it entered into force on 1st July 2015. Its purpose is to standardize the way in which CO2 emissions are recorded, and applies to ships over 5,000 GT which undertake one or more voyages between, into, or out of EU ports.

The various requirements of the regulation are being introduced in stages. Ship monitoring plans will first need to be submitted for approval so that as of the 1st January 2018, a standard method of monitoring can be commenced. Annual emission reports will then have to be submitted, and the data collected will be made publicly available.

There are however, still outstanding issues to be resolved before this EU regulation is fully implemented. Who will be approved to verify monitoring plans, emission reports, and issue the documents of compliance has yet to be confirmed. It is most likely that many of the tasks will be given over to classification societies and accredited third party verifiers. However, flag states will no doubt be called upon to play their part too.

The European Commission’s initiative is also likely be used as a basis by the IMO as they continue their work on making the maritime industry more environmentally friendly, and to establish global standards. Hopefully, and as stated by the IMO Secretary General Koji Sekimizu; rather than being the politicians, it will be the shipping industry, and the IMO in particular, which is left to decide what the practical measures are that can be implemented within the industry to aid climate change.

This will likely mean further amendments to the MARPOL Convention, but that must surely be a more practical solution all-round, rather than to simply slap further taxation on an industry which plays such an important part in the economy of the world.

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