SEA-LNG coalition calls on IMO to regulate all GHG emissions on a full lifecycle basis

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Clear and consistent regulation is key to driving maritime decarbonisation. With this in mind, and ahead of the IMO 80th Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 80), industry association SEA-LNG calls on the IMO to regulate all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shipping, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide on a full lifecycle, Well-to-Wake, basis. IMO regulation should be goal-based and technology neutral with the ambition of achieving convergence between global and regional measures, it says.

At MEPC 80, the IMO is set to revise its Initial Strategy on the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships. The revised strategy will contain concrete GHG reduction targets for the sector and is expected to outline a basket of technical and economic measures to be developed to set global shipping on an ambitious path towards aligning with Paris Climate Agreement targets.

Methane emissions associated with the use of LNG as a marine fuel, in particular methane slip in engine combustion cycles, is a topic that has the maritime industry’s complete attention. The industry has made great strides to reduce methane slip on a voluntary basis.

Engine technologies already exist with virtually no methane slip, and for those low-pressure engines where it remains an issue, continuing innovations by engine manufacturers have resulted in levels of methane slip falling four-fold over the past 20 years. Further, specific programmes have recently been set up with the aim of addressing methane slip, such as the Methane Abatement in Maritime Innovation Initiative (MAMII) and the Green Ray project.

Furthermore, upstream emissions of methane are being addressed by a number of United Nations (UN) and industry initiatives. The highest profile of these is the Global Methane Pledge (GMP), launched at COP26 in November 2021 to catalyse action to reduce methane emissions.

Voluntary initiatives are to be encouraged and applauded but progress needs to be accelerated if the 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature goal of the Paris Agreement is to be met. The most effective way of doing this is through regulation.

While the mandate of the IMO does not extend to fuel production and supply chains, any GHG regulations developed by the IMO need to take into account upstream, or so called Well-to-Tank emissions. In other words, regulations must be based on a full lifecycle, Well-to-Wake, approach.

Finally, in addressing GHG emissions, the IMO should continue with its current approach and resist picking technology ‘winners’, says SEA-LNG. Regulations should be goal-based and technology neutral and coherence should be sought with the Fit for 55 package of regulations currently being developed under the European Green Deal. The maritime sector cannot risk the emergence of a fragmented patchwork of global and regional regulations which could create confusion, conflicting incentives and ultimately, delay, it warns

Peter Keller, Chairman, SEA-LNG, said: “Shipping is unlikely to achieve its decarbonisation targets without a basket of fuels. Conducting comprehensive Well-to-Wake analysis is the only way to accurately compare the viability of all marine fuels.”

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