WMU Literature Review on Comprehensive Impact Assessment of the Short-term Measure as part of IMO’s MEPC76

The World Maritime University (WMU) is pleased to advance the efforts of reducing GHG emissions from ships and the decarbonization of international shipping with a literature review on the comprehensive impact assessment of the short-term measures approved by the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) at its 75th session in November of 2020. The WMU literature review will be considered by MEPC as its 76th session from 10-17 June 2021.


In April 2018, MEPC 72 adopted resolution MEPC.304(72) on the Initial IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG emissions from Ships (the Initial Strategy). The Initial Strategy aims to phase out GHG emissions as a matter of urgency, as soon as possible within this century. In order to achieve this aim, the carbon intensity of international shipping is to be reduced by at least 40 per cent by 2030, pursuing efforts towards 70 per cent by 2050, compared to 2008. Annual greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping are to be cut by at least half by 2050, compared with their level in 2008. The Initial Strategy lists a series of short, mid, and long-term measures to achieve the related goals.

At MEPC 75 in November of 2020, IMO approved short-term measures on the reduction of GHG from shipping. To achieve the goal, it is required that ships combine a technical and an operational approach to reduce their carbon intensity. The technical requirement to reduce carbon intensity is based on a new Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI), and the operational carbon intensity reduction requirements are based on a new operational carbon intensity indicator (CII). The combination of both measures (dual approach) assists in addressing both technical - how the ship is retrofitted and equipped - and operational measures  - how the ship operates.

As highlighted in the Initial GHG Strategy, the impacts on States should be assessed and taken into account with particular attention to the needs of developing countries, especially Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs), and disproportionately negative impacts should be assessed and addressed, as appropriate. In this regard, MEPC 75 approved the terms of reference and arrangements for conducting a comprehensive impact assessment of the approved short-term measures. The Committee asked the Secretariat to initiate the impact assessment with a view to the submission of a final report for the consideration of MEPC 76.

WMU Literature Review

Taking the above into consideration, the World Maritime University (WMU) was pleased to participate in IMO’s comprehensive impact assessment of the short-term measure study and took the lead in task one, i.e. Literature Review. WMU’s Maritime Energy Management (MEM) specialization experts, Dr. Aykut. I. Ölçer, Dr. Fabio Ballini, Dr. Alessandro Schönborn, Dr. Anastasia Christodoulou, and Captain Seyedvahid Vakili contributed to the study.

The literature review specifically evaluated the potential impact of the approved short-term measures using the eight impact criteria on reduction of GHG emissions from ships that include: (1) geographic remoteness of and connectivity to main markets; (2) cargo value and type; (3) transport dependency; (4) transport costs; (5) food security; (6) disaster response; (7) cost-effectiveness; and (8) socio-economic progress and development.   

WMU’s study shows that the carbon intensity reduction per se is not expected to have a negative impact on States. It is instead the embodiment of the approved short-term measures that may have an impact on States. It is also highlighted that the ideal way to meet the IMO goal is by applying a combination of both technical and operational measures. When analyzing the impact assessment on developing States, SIDS and LDCs, a systematic, holistic, and transdisciplinary approach must be taken into consideration.

Noting there are several ways of complying with the approved short-term measures, including hydrodynamic improvements, wind-assisted ship propulsion, renewable fuels and others, the report focused mainly on speed reduction as there is ample material available to support its effectiveness and it can be implemented with relative simplicity and negligible initial cost.

The goal-based measure mandates a limit on operational emissions, thus speed and other operational characteristics have to observe the carbon intensity target in practice. The review emphasizes that slow steaming is not equivalent to the goal-based measure, aside from the extent to which the goal-based measure might result in speed reductions. As a result, for existing ships, the most obvious operational measure that can be taken to meet operational goal-based targets is speed reduction. However, a holistic, systematic and transdisciplinary approach with the consideration of all stakeholders needs to be considered. A similar situation plays out for technical measures since EEXI or power reduction would lead to speed reduction and the shipowners, operators, and charterers are the relevant decision-makers. 

The full literature review is available in IMO’s MEPC 76/INF.68 document.

About Maritime Energy Management at WMU

WMU’s MEM specialization is at the forefront of MEM education and research. Since 2016, WMU has offered a MEM specialization within the Master of Science in Maritime Affairs programme, and in 2018 launched a new postgraduate diploma programme in MEM by distance learning. MEM is also a WMU Research Priority Area (RPA) that examines issues raised in respect to energy management to reduce air pollution and generate and sustainably consume energy. The topic requires significant research in understanding current problems, generating innovative approaches to policymaking for energy management, the design and operation of vessels with particular reference to the use of renewable sources of energy, and providing valuable insights into how the maritime industry can contribute substantially, and in an accelerated manner, to achieving a zero/low carbon and energy-efficient global future.

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