Environmental groups including Seas At Risk have welcomed the adoption of a global energy efficiency standard for new ships, but called for further actions to reduce GHG emissions from shipping.

Environmental groups including Seas At Risk have welcomed the adoption of a global energy efficiency standard for new ships, but called for further actions to reduce GHG emissions from shipping.

The Clean Shipping Coalition welcomes the adoption by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) of an Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) regulation for new ships, but warns that it's only the first step in what needs to be a far more expansive effort to address shipping’s climate impacts.

The regulation will only guarantee emissions reductions after 2019, as a handful of developing states led by China and Brazil secured a delay in implementation claiming the need for more time to acquire advanced technologies despite the fact that many of the most efficient ships are already being built in developing countries.

After more than 10 years of inaction the EEDI regulations are a welcome first initiative of the IMO on ship GHG emissions but a collection of additional market-based and operational measures such as emissions trading, a levy, speed limits and mandatory cuts is very much needed, and the IMO must address these issues with greater urgency.

Shipping accounts for around 3.3 percent of man-made CO2 emissions worldwide and this figure will rise to 6% in 2020. According to the IMO’s 2009 GHG study, if nothing is done, ship emissions could grow by 150 percent to 250 percent by 2050.

The EEDI will require new ships to meet a minimum level of energy efficiency: ships built between 2015 and 2019 will need to improve their efficiency by 10%, rising to 20 percent between 2020 and 2024 and 30 percent for ships delivered after 2024. However, after intense negotiations, efforts led by China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and South Africa secured a waiver for new ships registered in developing countries. If countries choose to apply the waiver for a newly delivered ship, application of the EEDI is delayed for 6.5 years from the 1st January 2013 entry into force of the regulation. There is a significant danger that many shipowners will elect to have their new ships flagged in countries that provide a waiver. The first guaranteed effective date of the EEDI as a global shipping efficiency standard would thus be 2019.

Environmental NGOs caution that because the standard only applies to ships replacing older ones at the end of their very long lives (typically 25-30 years), and because the waiver will defer implementation for many new ships, the full effects of today’s decision will take a very long time to have any significant impact.

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