MEPC proposes voluntary incentive scheme to reduce greenhouse gases

A proposal for a voluntary incentive scheme to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) has emerged from MEPC 49. The scheme targets primarily CO2 but also embraces five other GHGs (CFCs etc). Although barely 2% of total CO2 emissions come from ships it would appear that something must be SEEN to be done to satisfy government commitments to the Kyoto Protocol.

The IMO hopes that this voluntary code will bring about commercial inducements to shipowners to cut GHG emissions. The idea is that every ship will have its own individual index. The danger is that charterers or port state control could latch onto these indices and start setting acceptability levels.

The particular problem for tanker operators is that they will have difficulty reducing their CO2 emissions without reducing their commercial efficiency. Reducing Co2 emissions means reducing bunker consumption, which means slow-steaming, slower pumping etc. Unfortunately government environmentalists do not seem to be aware of this.

To advance this proposal, the IMO is now looking for input into what sort of indexing to use - specific indexing (based on the equipment on board) or activity indexing (based on what equipment is used and how often).

The issue will come up again at MEPC 50. Data input and opinions would be of great assistance on this issue.

Contact: Dragos Rauta