The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA), have submitted a joint proposal to the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) for a global GHG (greenhouse gas) fuel standard.

ICS and IBIA team up on ‘simplified’ GHG fuel standard for marine fuels, and say this joint proposal provides flexibility to enable compliance by ships should fuels of the required GHG intensity not always be available.

“This simplified approach avoids the need for an overly complex system, as proposed by the European Union, whereby “compliance units” or “remedial units” would need to be registered with or purchased from a central IMO registry,” noted Simon Bennett, deputy secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping,

“The proposed method of pooled compliance would be a private arrangement between shipping companies and would avoid unnecessary administrative burden for governments, including developing countries’ administrations whose support will be vital to move forward at IMO.”

In their proposal, ICS and IBIA have set out draft amendments to Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention in terms of maximum permitted GHG intensity of marine fuels in 2030, to be followed by an aggressive tightening of this standard in 2040.

The joint proposal provides for a crucial streamlined voluntary “energy pooling compliance mechanism” to address the possibility of fuel producers being unable to supply new fuels in sufficient quantities.

“This will allow for ships to continue to trade should sufficient quantities of fuels of the required GHG intensity not be made available by energy producers, but without increasing the sector’s total GHG emissions,” ICS and IBIA said.

The proposal will be considered by an IMO intersessional working group on GHG reduction in March 2024.

Edmund Hughes, IBIA’s representative at IMO, said: “We fully agree with shipowners, as represented by ICS, that the design of the global fuel standard needs to be kept as simple as possible if, as identified by the 2023 IMO GHG Strategy, governments wish to have a workable system in place within the next 18 months, that can be uniformly and consistently implemented and that keeps the administrative burden for bunker operators and suppliers to a minimum”.