Shipping GHG emissions context and IMO role

While shipping, in comparison to other transport modes, is the most efficient mode of cargo transport and was considered environmentally-friendly, the significant growth of seaborne trade and its externalities and societal costs have modified this perception. The growth of transportation by ships increased the energy consumed by shipping and, in spite of the improvement in the energy efficiency of ship engines, the global shipping emissions amplified quantitatively. This number and volume growth not only have implications for oceans as sea routes but also affects air quality in port areas and coastal zones. Therefore protection of the marine environment not only has implications for each country but also significant global benefits. This is especially true for environmental issues (in particular the GHG emissions) which is truly global in nature, and any benefits accrued at national level will fully contribute to the global benefits.

Responsibility under UN Framework Convention for Climate Change

Under UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, the responsibility for dealing with GHG emissions from international shipping and aviation are given to the IMO and the ICAO respectively based on Article 2 of Kyoto Protocol: “The Parties included in Annex I shall pursue limitation or reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol from aviation and marine bunker fuels, working through the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization, respectively”. (Drost 2008, 280).

After the adoption of Kyoto Protocol, shipping could not stay away from the international efforts on GHG reduction. Work by IMO started in 1997, lead to a number of regulations and work still continues on further regulatory measures. Before that, IMO relevant studies will be introduced first. During the period 1997 till now, IMO conducted three major studies on GHG emissions from international shipping as explained in the following sections” (IMO: Module 1. 2016, 40).