Monday, September 27, 2010

UN Body Looks At Shipping Pollution This Week

IMO Session in London Studies Everything from Ship Recycling to Emissions
Shipping News Feature

UK – WORLDWIDE – Today sees the start of the 61st session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) at the organizations HQ in London. With pressure from all sides the Committee have a lot to discuss before the end of the session on Friday. Pollution from freight and passenger vessels is firmly in the spotlight at the moment and the UN body needs to show it is prepared to act decisively on the subject.

Topics under discussion will range from the reduction of greenhouse gases through to the full adoption of Annex lll of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships by packaged goods (MARPOL) plus everything from ship recycling to waste ballast water filtration.

The MEPC is expected to consider the approval of technical and operational measures to reduce CO2 emissions from international shipping, specifically, the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP), as mandatory measures, possibly as amendments to MARPOL Annex VI Regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships, with the type and size of vessel to which they will apply also to be agreed. A working group will be convened to refine the text and formulae.

The MEPC will also consider the outcome of two working groups who studied enhanced energy efficiency in vessels and the feasibility and likely impact of various proposals. Also the issue of an emission reduction target and whether the international maritime sector should be subject to an explicit emission ceiling (cap) comprising the entire world fleet of merchant vessels.

Whilst CO2 and sulphur emissions grab the headlines some of other threats to the environment receive less publicity yet can be devastating to the environment and local populations. The IMO can be seen to have acted for example in the case of ballast water with its new Eastern European education programme but is often criticised for its tardiness in reacting to what is after all a global problem with many players.