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Author: Michele Witthaus/23 June 2016/Categories: Interview, Marine operations
What are IMO’s key priorities for the maritime sector arising from the COP21 climate talks in Paris in 2015?I welcome the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement which sets a clear goal for action to limit global temperature increase.
For IMO, our key priorities are to continue to address GHG emissions from international shipping. This will include ongoing work by IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) to build on the already-adopted mandatory energy-efficiency measures for international shipping in MARPOL Annex VI. We will also focus on capacity building to support implementation of the energy-efficiency measures.
The MEPC holds two sessions this year, in April and October, and will further develop a global data collection system for ships’ fuel consumption. I expect to see significant progress in developing this system this year.
The MEPC has investigated and may, in the future, consider additional mechanisms for ships to address GHG emissions from international shipping. The MEPC is expected to further consider a total-sector reduction target for GHG emissions from international shipping.
Another key priority will be further work on the updating of guidance on how to implement the energy-efficiency measures. A review of the status of technological developments for implementation of phase 2 (2020-2024) of the Energy Efficiency Design Index has been undertaken and a report will be considered by the MEPC in April.
Two key technical cooperation projects to assist developing countries in the uptake and implementation of the new energy-efficiency measures will be prioritised this year.
The first is the GEF-UNDP-IMO Global Maritime Energy Efficiency Partnership (GloMEEP) Project, with a goal of building understanding and knowledge of technical and operational energy-efficiency measures to lead maritime transport into a low-carbon future. The first national workshop under the two-year project was held in December 2015.
The second is an ambitious €10 million European Commission-funded four-year project to establish a global network of Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres. The aim of the project will be to help beneficiary countries limit and reduce GHG emissions from their shipping sectors through technical assistance and capacity building.
How, in your opinion, are passenger shipping operators coping with the more stringent emissions measures introduced in January 2015?
We have had no indication of any particular difficulty in complying with the 0.10% m/m sulphur limit for fuel oil used by ships operating within designated Emission Control Areas (ECAs) from 1 January 2015.
IMO has been notified by certain flag Administrations that equivalent arrangements, namely exhaust gas cleaning systems, have been allowed on a number of cruise ships.
The next important step is completing the review required under regulation 14 (Sulphur Oxides (SOx) and Particulate Matter) of MARPOL Annex VI, of the availability of compliant fuel oil to meet the global requirements that the sulphur content of fuel oil used onboard ships shall not exceed 0.50% m/m on and after 1 January 2020.
This review has been initiated and we anticipate that the final report will be submitted to MEPC 70 (autumn 2016), in order to inform the decision to be taken by the Parties to MARPOL Annex VI as to whether the 2020 deadline for the 0.50% m/m sulphur content should be kept, or whether it should be deferred to 2025.
You have a strong background in port administration. What message do you have for cruise and ferry ports on how they can participate in meeting IMO sustainability goals?
Ports have an important role to play in contributing to sustainable development, especially the environmental aspects of shipping, particularly dealing with operational waste through the provision of port reception facilities. For passenger shipping, the provision of reception facilities to receive sewage and garbage is of particular importance.
Generally speaking, ports could consider technologies for improving port air quality and reducing GHG emissions. For example, providing onshore power supply for ships, considering cleaner fuels or hybrid technology for port craft and onshore vehicles, and looking at environmental incentives for shipping or so-called ‘green port’ initiatives. IMO has commissioned a comprehensive study of emission control and energy-efficiency measures for ships in the port area, which identifies existing control measures to reduce emissions from ships in ports and possible future innovative measures to address such emissions.
I would encourage port authorities to consider ways in which they can support sustainability and clean air initiatives and would also point out that IMO’s technical cooperation programme stands ready to support countries that require assistance.
How can IMO assist in enabling improved safety measures in the global ferry sector?
Last year an IMO Conference in the Philippines adopted Guidelines on the safe operation of coastal and inter-island passenger ships engaged in domestic voyages. The Guidelines address purchasing, converting or modifying second-hand ships for use in domestic passenger services, changes in operating limits, counting passengers and voyage planning. They can also be used to check the daily operation of ships that are already providing passenger services. The Conference urged States that need it to seek technical assistance relating to domestic ferries from IMO or from other States.
My key message here is that, while the IMO technical committees and sub-committees have a key role in reviewing and adopting global standards, our comprehensive technical cooperation programme exists to support Member States to implement those standards. And we have capacity-building projects that address vessels not covered by IMO treaties, such as the domestic passenger ferries.
What progress has IMO seen in the passenger shipping sector towards the Sustainable Development Goals and what do you think still needs to be achieved?
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the UN were adopted in 2015.
I think the passenger ship industry, specifically the cruise industry, has shown strong support for safe, secure and sustainable shipping. Many cruise lines promote their green credentials and see this as a key marketing tool.
Ensuring that cruise ships take care of operational discharges – whether it’s oily waste, sewage or garbage – is key for cruise shipping. The passenger ship industry has a vested interest in ensuring that oceans remain pristine, so SDG Goal 14 – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development – has particular resonance.
Of course, there is still more to be done. In the longer term, the cruise industry will need to fully embrace the concept of a low-carbon future.
There is no reason why passenger shipping should not lead the way when it comes to innovation for energy efficiency. The passenger ship industry has already shown strong leadership in addressing waste management, such as through initiatives for recycling onboard, particularly important given the numbers of passengers and crew on the largest vessels.
What improvements would you like to see in the way IMO works with ports to improve efficiency and lower environmental impact?
Our technical cooperation programme has been working with a number of countries on the development, adoption and review of national maritime transport policies, which should include policies relating to environmental sustainability in ports.
The mandatory Member State audits will also look at States’ responsibilities when it comes to provision of port reception facilities.
The GloMEEP project has a strong focus on ports, with several activities planned over the coming two years, including the development of guidance documents on port energy analysis and on estimating the financial/economic benefits of port energy-efficiency measures. Also, selected ports will undertake a detailed energy analysis with a view to proposing methods to support ships’ energy saving and improving air quality in ports. The costs and benefits of such measures will also be analysed.
The recently launched project to establish a global network of Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres also has the potential to look at the port area as well as shipping on the high seas and in coastal areas.
What, in your opinion, are the most pressing education and training needs in shipping now, with a view to equipping the next generation of seafarers?
I think it is important that there is a continued supply of professionally trained, qualified and competent seafarers, and that there is adequate, well-resourced training capacity to meet updated and new requirements, such as for seafarers who will serve on liquefied natural gas tankers, low flashpoint gas-fuelled ships and vessels operating in polar waters.
It is vital that all Parties to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) ensure that all serving seafarers have been trained and certified under the 2010 Manila amendments, which updated and amended the treaty and its associated STCW Code. The amended STCW Convention and Code entered into force in 2012 and the transitional period for implementation ends on 1 January 2017.
The provisions in the Manila Amendments provide updated and new training standards and related guidance. They include important provisions relating to hours of work and rest, which are harmonized with mirror provisions in the ILO Maritime Labour Convention 2006.
Other important issues from the IMO side include the review of the Guidance on fatigue mitigation and management. This Guidance, which is critically important to all seafarers working on ships, was last issued in 2001 and it is important we take into account the latest research and advice, when revising and updating these Guidelines.
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