BPO welcomes IMO’s latest GHG emissions reduction strategy – more work ahead

Jul 10 2023

BPO welcomes IMO’s latest GHG emissions reduction strategy – more work ahead

Members of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) met last week at the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 80) in London. The meeting resulted in adoption of the 2023 IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships. While the Baltic Ports Organization (BPO) welcomes this step, there is still much work to be accomplished by the maritime community as the first of the agreed upon deadlines draws near.

Year 2030 will be the first test for the ability of the maritime transport to meet the goals set by the new agreement. Here is a brief rundown of the key “levels of ambition directing the 2023 IMO GHG Strategy:”

  • to reduce CO2 emissions per transport work, as an average across international shipping, by at least 40% by 2030, compared to 2008
  • uptake of zero or near-zero GHG emission technologies, fuels and/or energy sources to represent at least 5%, striving for 10%, of the energy used by international shipping by 2030

    Getting to net-zero “by or around, i.e., close to 2050”, is meant to happen in two steps, labeled as indicative checkpoints:

  • to reduce the total annual GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 20%, striving for 30%, by 2030, compared to 2008
  • to reduce the total annual GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 70%, striving for 80%, by 2040, compared to 2008

While the agreement allows for some leeway and lacks a certain degree of unambiguity, it does set expectations for the next two decades, which should be seen as a step in the right direction. Maritime transport is highly difficult to regulate and every effort counts.

It is also worth underscoring that these decisions bear consequences for all shipowners, worldwide. Transitioning to alternative fuels, which carries with it the need to either retrofit existing vessels or invest in new ones in order to make use of alternative fuels, is not only complex but also incredibly costly. It will be a challenge for even the biggest players in the industry.
Apart from the impact on business models, investment plans and fleet expansion, there is also the question of availability of zero greenhouse gas marine fuels, which, according to Simon Benett, Deputy Secretary General at the International Chamber of Shipping, is nowhere near the levels required.

Baltic ready to contribute

It is all hands on deck if the maritime community is to reach the end goal of zero-emission and the Baltic ports are certainly ready to support the shipowners. Numerous ports in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) are already offering price incentives in form of reduced vessel fees for shipowners implementing environmentally friendly solutions. These incentives can be linked to Clean Shipping Index or Environmental Shipping Index certification, efforts to limit noise pollution or general level of innovative technologies in use on a ship.

The ports in the BSR are also highly involved in the development of on-shore power (OPS) infrastructure, shore power being a viable tool for combating GHG emissions. The number of OPS installations in Baltic ports has tripled over the past few years, approaching 27 in 2022.

„Ports’ role in the reduction of GHG emissions from maritime transport is essential. Firstly, ports, together with a wide range of stakeholders, will be working hard to make new low- or zero-emission fuels available and safely bunkered during ship calls. Baltic ports already have 15 years of expertise in this field, coming from bunkering of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Secondly, ports have been already and will continue to invest in shore side electricity for passenger and container ships as required by the EU Fit for 55 package. This process will cost a lot of effort and capital, and pose other serious challenges to overcome, such as standardization and the lack of energy grid capacity in ports,” stated Bogdan Ołdakowski, Secretary General, BPO.

Our member ports are also committed to cutting their own carbon footprint. A number of Baltic ports already have ambitious emission reduction strategies either in place or in development, with deadlines for achieving carbon neutrality ranging from as early as 2030 to 2050.

It is only through mutual support and cooperation that the worldwide maritime community will be able to have a shot at meeting the deadlines set by the IMO agreement. The BPO would like to extend an invitation to all involved parties to work together and is as always ready to contribute its knowledge and experience to the cause of “greening” the maritime transport.