June, 2021 - MEPC 76 de-brief (podcast also available)

  • Date: 23/06/2021
June, 2021 - MEPC 76 de-brief (podcast also available)

Click here to listen to the podcast

The 76th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 76) convened remotely from 10th to 17th June, 2021.  The Committee, which addresses environmental issues under IMO's remit, discussed and implemented a number of key measures in furtherance of the IMO’s environmental goals.  Here, we take a quick look at some of the highlights and their impact on Members.

A significant step was taken in terms of the IMO’s roadmap to decarbonisation by the adoption of technical and operational schemes to reduce carbon intensity. Other notable measures adopted include a prohibition on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil for use as fuel in Arctic waters and a ban on the use of the toxic component cybutryne in anti-fouling systems.

Technical and operational measures

The Committee formally adopted three key schemes: the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI), the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) and the enhanced Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP). Please see our Green Shipping publication for more discussion on these measures.

These measures are contained in a new consolidated MARPOL Annex VI, which will enter into force on 1st November, 2022.  As of 1st January, 2023, ships will have to comply with the CII rating scheme, keep on board an approved SEEMP and also comply with the EEXI as of their next annual, intermediate or renewal International Air Pollution Prevention survey.

Technical guidelines for the EEXI and CII were also adopted, based on discussions at a recent working group. The guidelines deal with matters such as methods of calculation, assessment and certification. Most notably, reduction factors were established for the CII, starting with a 5% reduction by 2023, as compared to a 2019 base year.  Other relevant matters, such as guidelines for the SEEMP, are to be considered further and reported on at the next MEPC session.

Other matters

The Committee also adopted amendments to MARPOL Annex I, prohibiting heavy fuel oil to be used or carried for use in Arctic waters. The prohibition will apply from 1st July, 2024 for most ships and states, subject to certain exceptions.

Amendments to the Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships Convention were adopted to control the use of the toxic paint substance cybutryne, which is harmful to many maritime organisms.  Save for certain exemptions, applicable anti-fouling systems should be sealed or removed at the next scheduled renewal of the anti-fouling system after 1st January, 2023.

Other amendments relating to air pollution and energy efficiency were also agreed, as well as an exemption for unmanned non-self-propelled barges.  Due to time constraints, several matters were deferred to MEPC 77, for example, the consideration of ballast water management.

What next?

MEPC 76 marks a key step in the furtherance of the IMO’s target to cut shipping’s carbon footprint by 40% over the next decade.  However, there is still a lot more work to be done.  The next session, MEPC 77, will be held in November, 2021 and we will report on further developments then.

Meanwhile, in light of the impending deadline for compliance with the EEXI and CII schemes, Members should assess requirements for technical and operational modifications and plan ahead accordingly.  Incorporating suitable contractual provisions to address operational and technical efficiency can help to minimise scope for dispute.  

Members are invited to contact the Club for further guidance and assistance in relation to the issues discussed above.


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