History of IMO GHG related activities

With a view to addressing the issue of air emissions from international shipping, IMO in its 1997 MARPOL Conference adopted MARPOL Annex VI on prevention of air pollution from ships and also adopted Resolution 8 on ships CO2 emissions as a starting point inviting:

  • the IMO Secretary-General to co-operate with the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC in the exchange of information on the issue of GHG emissions;
  • IMO to undertake a study of GHG emissions from ships for the purpose of establishing the amount and relative percentage of GHG emissions from ships as part of the global inventory of GHG emissions; and
  • The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of IMO to consider feasible GHG emissions reduction strategies.

This was the starting point for IMO debates and decisions on GHG emissions from international shipping that still continues. Figure 5 below provides the important chronological order of the IMO activities so far since 1997”. (IMO: Module 1. 2016, 52.)

Figure 5: IMO GHG control related activities in chronological order (IMO Module 1 2016, 53).

“Further details of the IMO activities are given below in chronological order.


As a follow-up to Resolution 8, the First IMO GHG Study 2000 was completed and presented to the forty fifth session of the MEPC (MEPC 45) in June 2000.


In an effort to further address the issue of GHG emissions from ships, the IMO Assembly adopted, in December 2003, Resolution A.963 (23) on "IMO Policies and Practices related to the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships." As follow-up to this resolution, MEPC 55 (October 2006) approved the MEPC’s "Work plan to identify and develop the mechanisms needed to achieve the limitation or reduction of CO2 emissions from international shipping," inviting Member Governments to participate actively in the work plan.

MEPC 55 also agreed to update the “First IMO GHG Study 2000” to provide a better foundation for future decisions and to assist in the follow-up to resolution A.963 (23). MEPC 56 (July 2007) adopted the terms of reference for the updating of the study. The report of this study prepared by a consortium and was submitted to MEPC in 2009 under the title Second IMO GHG Study 2009”. (IMO: Module 1. 2016, 53.)

MEPC 59 (July 2009)

“The MEPC work plan culminated at MEPC 59 with the MEPC agreeing to a package of technical and operational measures to reduce GHG emissions from international shipping and also agreed on a plan for further consideration and development of suitable and efficient Market Based Measures (MBMs) to complement the technical and operational reduction measures and to provide economic incentives for the shipping industry. The MEPC further agreed that any regulatory scheme to control GHG emissions from international shipping should be developed and enacted by IMO as the most competent international body

IMO's GHG / energy efficiency work plan at the time contained three distinct components:

  • The technical measures that will mainly be applied to new ships. This was reflected in the development of EEDI related regulations.
  • The operational measures for all ships in operation (new and existing). This was reflected in the development of SEEMP and EEOI.
  • The MBMs providing market / competition incentives to the shipping industry by setting a sort of cost item for CO2 emitters and incentives for those who reduce their CO2 emissions.

Technical and operational measures:

MEPC 59 finalized a package of technical and operational measures in the form of Guidelines for EEDI, SEEMP and EEOI. Relevant Guidelines developed and approved (in the form of Circulars) for the then voluntary application.

Market Based Measures (MBMs):

The agreed package of the above technical and operational measures is a very important step in ensuring that the shipping industry has the necessary mechanisms to reduce its GHG emissions. However, the MEPC recognized that these measures would not be sufficient to satisfactorily reduce the amount of GHG emissions from international shipping in view of the growth projections of world trade. Therefore, MBMs was considered as a market-driven option by the MEPC in line with its GHG work plan. At the time, it was understood that a good MBM would serve two main purposes: (1) Offsetting in other sectors of growing ship emissions and (2) Providing a fiscal incentive for the maritime industry to invest in more fuel efficient ships and technologies and to operate ships in a more energy efficient manner.

MEPC 60 (2010)

The main work accomplished during this session was the preparation of the “draft regulatory text” on mandatory requirements for the EEDI for new vessels and on the SEEMP for all ships in operation. The MEPC realised that to finalise the regulatory text, it is required to decide on issues concerning ship size, ship types, target dates and reduction rate in relation to the EEDI requirements. The MEPC agreed in principle on the basic concept that a vessel's Attained EEDI shall be equal or less than the Required EEDI, and that the Required EEDI shall be drawn up based on EEDI reference lines and reduction rates. This became the subject of additional work and use of concrete methods for calculating the EEDI reference line using data from existing ships in the IHS Fairplay database. With regard to MBM, the MEPC agreed to establish an Expert Group on the subject to undertake a feasibility study and impact assessment of the various proposals submitted for a MBM instrument for international maritime transport.

MEPC 61 (2010)

technical and operational measure:

Having considered means by which technical and operational measures could be introduced in MARPOL Annex VI, there was further debates and agreement on how these regulatory texts should be introduced. The debate concentrated for the IMO Secretary-General to circulate proposed amendments to MARPOL Annex VI for mandatory application of EEDI and SEEMP regulatory text and relevant Guidelines that have already been disseminated for voluntary use. The issue of circulation by the Secretary General was the subject of much debate as some States did not consider it appropriate”. (IMO: Module 1. 2016, 53-54.)

Market-Based Measures

“The scope of the work of the Expert Group was to evaluate the various proposals on possible MBMs, with the aim of assessing the extent to which they could assist in reducing GHG emissions from international shipping, giving priority to the maritime sectors of developing countries, least developed countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The MBM proposals under review ranged from a GHG Fund or levy on all CO2 emissions from international shipping or only from those ships not meeting the EEDI requirement, via emission trading systems, to schemes based on a ship's actual efficiency, both by design (EEDI) and operation (SEEMP).

The MEPC agreed Terms of Reference for an intercessional meeting of the “Working Group on GHG Emissions from Ships” to deal with relevant schemes and submissions and report back to MEPC 62.

MEPC 62 (2011)

The final breakthrough came at MEPC 62. As a result of lengthy deliberations, the amendments to MARPOL Annex VI in the form of “energy efficiency regulations for ships” was added as a new Chapter 4 to MARPOL Annex VI as a result of which EEDI and SEEMP became mandatory for applicable ships. Other amendments to Annex VI included addition of new definitions and the requirements for survey and certification, including the format for the International Energy Efficiency Certificate.

MEPC 63 (2012)

An important series of guidelines to support the uniform implementation of mandatory measures for ship energy efficiency (EEDI and SEEMP) was adopted by the MEPC in this session. During this session, the MEPC also continued its intensive discussion on MBMs for application to international shipping.

MEPC 64 (2013

The MEPC continued to refine relevant Guidelines on calculation and verification of EEDI. MEPC additionally approved the following:

  • A number of UIs (Unified Interpretations) on definition of "new ships" for various EEDI phases, on timing of ships to have a SEEMP on-board and also on "major conversion" for energy efficiency purposes.
  • Decided on development of interim guidelines for determining minimum propulsion power to maintain the manoeuvrability of ships in adverse conditions and draft Guidelines on treatment of innovative energy-efficiency technologies.
  • A debate on Regulation 23 of chapter 4 of MARPOL Annex VI on “promotion of technical cooperation and transfer of technology” that led to a text of a draft resolution3 on issues relating to technology transfer for the improvement of energy efficiency of ships.
  • In principle endorsed and outline for an update of the previous GHG Studies including GHG inventory. Finally, it decided to defer debates on MBMs to MEPC 65”. (IMO: Module 1. 2016, 55.)

MEPC 65 (2013)

“During this MEPC meeting, the following were accomplished:

  • Resolution on MEPC.229 (65) on Promotion of Technical Co-operation and Transfer of Technology Relating to the Improvement of Energy Efficiency of Ships was adopted.
  • Study to update the previous GHG Study approved: The MEPC approved the terms of reference and agreed to initiate a study for an update of previous IMO GHG Studies.
  • Development of energy-efficiency regulations continued: The MEPC continued its work on further developing the EEDI and SEEMP framework. This included approval of draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI to extend the application of EEDI to ro-ro cargo ships (vehicle carrier), LNG carriers, cruise passenger ships having non-conventional propulsion, ro-ro cargo ships and ro-ro passenger ships; and to exempt ships not propelled by mechanical means, and platforms including FPSOs and FSUs and drilling rigs, regardless of their propulsion; as well as cargo ships having ice-breaking capability.
  • Adopted amendments to update a number of Guidelines on EEDI. Adopted those Guidelines that were approved under MEPC 64.
  • Further measures to improve the energy efficiency of ships: The MEPC considered the importance of enhancing the existing framework (EEDI and SEEMP) for further reduction of shipping GHG emissions. As such the MEPC agreed to establish a sub-agenda item for discussion of further technical and operational measures for enhancing energy efficiency for international shipping, and to establish a working group under this sub-agenda item at MEPC 66.

MEPC 66 (April 2014)

The following aspects were discussed but no substantive decision made:

  • Energy-efficiency measures for ships considered: The MEPC continued its work on further developing guidelines to support the uniform implementation of the regulations on energy-efficiency for ships.
  • Technical co-operation and technology transfer discussed: The MEPC discussed the implementation of resolution MEPC.229 (65) on Promotion of Technical Co-operation and Transfer of Technology Relating to the Improvement of Energy Efficiency of Ships. The Ad Hoc Expert Working Group on Facilitation of Transfer of Technology for Ships (AHEWG-TT), established in accordance with the resolution, met during the session and agreed a work plan with the following terms:
  • Assessing the potential implications and impacts of the implementation of the energy efficiency regulations in chapter 4 of MARPOL Annex VI, in particular, on developing States, as a means to identify their technology transfer and financial needs;
  • Identifying barriers to transfer of technology, in particular to developing States, including associated costs, and possible sources of funding; and making recommendations, including the development of a model agreement enabling the transfer of financial and technological resources and capacity building between Parties, for the implementation of the energy efficiency regulations.
  • Further measures for improving energy efficiency of ship: The MEPC discussed various submissions relating to proposals to establish a framework for the collection and reporting of data on the fuel consumption of ships.

MEPC 67 (October 2014)

The following activities were carried out:

  • Energy-efficiency measures for ships considered: During the session, the MEPC adopted a number of changes to various Guidelines including:
  • The 2014 Guidelines on survey and certification of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), updating the previous version to include, for example, identification of the primary fuel for the calculation of the attained EEDI for ships fitted with dual-fuel engines using LNG and liquid fuel oil.
  • The MEPC also adopted amendments to the 2013 Interim Guidelines for determining minimum propulsion power to maintain the manoeuvrability of ships in adverse conditions.
  • A correspondence group was established to review the status of technological developments relevant to implementing phase 2 of the EEDI regulatory framework as foreseen under Regulation 21.6.
  • Further measures - Data collection system for fuel consumption of ships: The MEPC agreed, in principle, to develop a data collection system for ships and, having agreed on the general description of the data collection system for fuel consumption of ships, agreed to the reestablishment of an intersessional correspondence group to develop full language regulatory text so that it can be readily used for voluntary or mandatory application of the system. The core elements of the data collection system included: (1) data collection by ships, (2) flag State functions in relation to data collection including verification and (3) establishment of a centralized database by the IMO.
  • Third IMO GHG Study 2014 approved: The MEPC approved the Third IMO GHG Study 2014 providing updated estimates for GHG emissions from ships (see Section 6.3 for details of this study).

MEPC 68 (2015)

In this session of the MEPC, the following were agreed:

  • Further development of energy-efficiency guidelines for ships: The MEPC continued its work on further develop and approved/adopted guidelines to assist in the implementation of the mandatory energy-efficiency regulations in particular the EEDI.
  • EEDI review work to continue: The progress of the Correspondence Group established to review the status of technological developments relevant to implementing phase 2 of the EEDI regulations, as required under regulation 21.6 of MARPOL Annex VI, was received and MEPC decided to re-establish the Correspondence Group to further the work.
  • Text agreed for further development of a data collection system: On “further measures”, the MEPC agreed that the full language text for the data collection regulations need to be enhanced. The proposed text were preliminary agreed and the Correspondence Group was re-convened to continue work on this text and report back to future MEPC meetings”. (IMO: Module 1. 2016, 55-57.)