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October 4, 2002

Green issues take center stage at IMO
Ballast water management, greenhouse gas emissions and ship recycling are among issues high on the agenda for next week's 48th session of IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC). .

Ballast Water Management

At the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in August, IMO was urged to finalize the new Convention on Ballast Water Management. Following the approval in principle by the IMO Council and Assembly to convene a Diplomatic Conference on ballast water management, this session of MEPC will be assessing progress on preparation of the draft convention with a view to finalizing the timing of the Diplomatic Conference.

The immediate challenge is to agree appropriate standards for ballast water within the limitations  of the technology available now and in the near future, while maintaining the overall objective of eliminating the problem totally.

Greenhouse gases

The Committee is expected to make progress on preparation of a draft Assembly resolution that will indicate IMO's commitment to dealing with greenhouse gas issues and will general directions as guidance for its future work on this important matter.

IMO had been invited, in a resolution adopted by the 1997 MARPOL Conference, to undertake a study of CO2 emissions from ships. It was also especially requested to deal with emissions from ships, under the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The IMO Study on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships was published in 2000 and MEPC was invited to consider the IMO strategy to control greenhouse gas emissions from ships, based on this and on submissions from delegations. 

A correspondence group established by the last session of MEPC produced a basis for further discussions on various technical and operational issues, including whether IMO's efforts should be concentrated on CO2 alone, whether mandatory emission standards are achievable  and whether the greenhouse gas indexing approach is likely to be of value.

Ship recycling

MEPC is set to consider further the proposal to develop IMO guidelines on ship recycling. It is anticipated that comprehensive guidelines will be prepared for adoption by the IMO Assembly next year.  It is recognized that, while IMO has a role to play in reducing the safety and environmental risks associated with ship demolition and recycling, there are clearly limits to the scope of IMO's activities in dealing with the issue.  Cooperation with other UN agencies, namely ILO and the Basel Convention Secretariat, has been recognized as crucial in preparing any international measures.

Model Audit Scheme

MEPC will also consider proposals for a voluntary IMO Model Audit Scheme for Flag States. The concept has been approved in principle by the Council which will continue its discussions on the mater at its next meeting in November. The scheme will also be considered by the Maritime Safety Committee and the Technical Co-operation Committee. 

Other issues

Other important matters on the MEPC agenda at this session include:

  • adoption of amendments to the Condition Assessment Scheme under MARPOL regulation 13G
  • adoption of amendments to the list of substances under the 1973 Intervention Protocol

  • further consideration of the MARPOL Annex II categorization scheme
  • consideration of the successful conclusion and recommendations of the Third R&D Forum on High Density Oil Spill Response and of the work program for implementation of the OPRC HNS Protocol
  • proposals for Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas
  • technical co-operation programmes
  • development of guidelines for the implementation of the Anti-Fouling Convention

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