IMO has approved short-term GHG reduction measures


The 75th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 75), which took place online from 16 to 20 November 2020, continued the deliberations on reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shipping, but also adopted amendments to MARPOL Annex VI and the International Ballast Water Management Convention (BWM Convention).

MEPC 75 considered the most urgent issues, such as adoption of amendments to conventions and the outcome of the intersessional working groups on reduction of GHG emissions. However, many agenda items were postponed until 2021. BIMCO has highlighted below some of the critical decisions made at MEPC 75.

Adoptions of amendments to MARPOL Annex VI and BWM Convention

Amendments to MARPOL Annex VI were adopted, introducing revised procedures for sampling and verification of the sulphur content of fuel oil, and a new table for the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) reduction factors. As written prior to the meeting, BIMCO is concerned with the proposed procedure for ‘On board sampling’ to be used for determining if the ship is in compliance with the sulphur regulation, since the only truly homogenous and representative fuel oil sample is the MARPOL sample (MARPOL delivered sample). However, the amendments do not change the statutory legal limit of 0.50% sulphur content.

The new EEDI reduction factors strengthen the phase 3 requirement for certain ship types, such as containerships and general cargo ships, already from 1 January 2022. The above new MARPOL Annex VI amendments will enter into force on 1 April 2022.

Amendments to the BWM Convention were adopted, introducing commissioning testing of ballast water management systems during installation and a change to the format of the BWM Convention certificate. These new amendments will enter into force on 1 June 2022.

Short-term measures to reduce GHG emissions from existing ships

MEPC 75 approved the draft MARPOL Annex VI amendments drafted by the latest intersessional working group on reduction of GHG from shipping, which contain both a technical Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and an operational Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) measures. It was agreed to proceed with two parallel workstreams until the 76th session scheduled to be held in June 2021.The 76th session is expected to finally adopt the draft MARPOL amendments based on the intersessional work:

  1. The IMO will conduct a study to assess the impact of the draft short-term GHG reduction measures on states, especially on developing countries and in particular on least developed countries (LDCs) and small islands developing states (SIDS).
  2. Meanwhile, the work will carry on developing guidelines on the important elements still missing such as:
  • method of calculating the attained EEXI
  • survey and certification of the attained EEXI
  • Shaft/Engine Power Limitation System to comply with the EEXI requirements and use of power reserve
  • method of calculating CII
  • methods of establishing CII reference guidelines, reduction factors and a rating mechanism

The Fourth IMO Greenhouse Gas Study was approved

The 4th IMO GHG Study 2020, which was commended by many delegations for its scientific quality, was officially approved. Also, several delegations emphasised how the study showed a clear decoupling of shipping’s GHG emissions in 2009 from the increased maritime trade volumes. The significance of the decoupling of world trade and emissions has been previously stressed by BIMCO. The study also indicated a significant decrease of carbon intensity in the period under review, indicating that the previously agreed IMO measures were starting to have a positive effect.


Christian Baekmark Schiolborg
in Copenhagen, DK


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