The International Maritime Organization has officially granted consultative status to the Active Shipbuilding Experts’ Federation, giving the world’s shipbuilders an influential voice on global regulation issues. The federation, which counts as its members 10 ship building bodies in Asia that represent 90% of all ship builders, was one of two non-governmental organisations to gain IMO approval, along with the US-based Pew Charitable Trusts.
The IMO Assembly ratified a decision made in August by its council to give the ASEF consultative status. NGOs with consultative status operate in an advisory capacity to the organisation, and do not have an IMO vote. The Pew Charitable Trusts, founded in 1948, focuses on public policy, including but not limited to environmental policy. Its work on the marine sector has focused on coral reef preservation, sustainable fishing and protecting life in the Arctic. The ASEF, whose members include national shipbuilders’ associations from China, Japan, South Korea and elsewhere, is expected to be vocal within the IMO on safety and environmental regulations as they apply to shipyards.
The Energy Efficiency Design Index, which is aimed at the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from ships, provides a method for establishing the minimum efficiency of new vessels depending on their type and size. Started in 2015, it forces all vessels built during each phase to be at least 10% more efficient than the average fleet of their type, based on that fleet’s average CO2 emissions per tonne mile generated between 1999 and 2009. This average is also known as the reference line. The second EEDI phase commences in 2020, from when vessels will have to be between 15% and 20% more efficient than their reference lines. Yet to be fixed is the third phase, currently scheduled to start in 2025 with a 30% emissions reduction mandate.
The IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee will discuss the matter further, including a suggestion that the start date of the third phase could be brought forward to 2022. Gaining consultative status gives the ASEF the opportunity to prepare recommendations and to influence that debate. The fact that the IMO is scheduled to adopt a five-year greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategy at MEPC 72, scheduled for April next year, will force at least some fundamental international convergence on what is a highly divisive issue. This in turn should enable the ASEF to come forward with recommendations, as its members will be bound under the same international strategy until at least 2023.
Following the accession of the ASEF and Pew, the IMO now has 79 organisations with consultative status, 29 of which have joined since 2001.