IMO MEPC 80: Shipping to reach net-zero GHG Emissions by 2050

The 80th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 80) adopted a revised GHG Strategy. The revised strategy aims to significantly curb GHG emissions from international shipping. The new targets include a 20% reduction in emissions by 2030, a 70% reduction by 2040 (compared to 2008 levels), and the ultimate goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. New regulations are expected to enter into force around mid-2027.

Relevant for ship owners and managers, equipment manufacturers, fuel suppliers.

Meeting highlights

  • Adoption of a revised GHG Strategy with strengthened ambitions
  • Adoption of guidelines for lifecycle assessment of marine Fuels
  • Approval of amendments to the Data Collection System (DCS) requiring more detailed data on fuel consumption
  • Approval for circular setting out rules for application of biofuels under the DCS and Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII)

Adoption of amendments to mandatory instruments

MEPC 80 adopted amendments to the Ballast Water Management Convention concerning the form of the Ballast Water Record Book. The aim is to improve the recording and provide clarity on information concerning ballast water operations that would be recorded by ships.

The amendments will enter into force on 1 February 2025.  

Harmful aquatic organisms in ballast water

Experience building phase

The Convention Review Plan, under the experience-building phase associated with the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention, was approved. A Correspondence Group will continue the work on the review

Ballast water record book

MEPC 80 approved the circular “Guidance on matters relating to ballast water record-keeping and reporting”. The Committee further adopted the resolution “Guidance for the Use of Electronic Record Books under the BWM Convention” and approved consequent amendments to Regulations A-1 and B-2, and the MEPC resolutions of Regulations G4 and G6 of the Convention.

Ships operating in challenging water quality

MEPC 80 did not manage to complete the guidance on the application of the BWM Convention to ships operating in challenging water quality, as substantial concerns and divergent views remained. Work will continue towards MEPC 81 in April 2024. However, it was expressed that due to the lack of guidelines and the urgency of having instructions for these situations, some administrations may develop their own national policies for operation in challenging water qualities and start the implementation early. 


MEPC 80 adopted the revised “Guidelines for the Control and Management of Ship’s Biofouling to Minimize the Transfer of Invasive Aquatic Species”. The guidelines provide recommendations on in-water inspections with a focus on the quantitative assessment of biofouling using a biofouling rating number, as well as on observations of the anti-fouling system condition.

Ballast water monitoring devices

MEPC 80 approved a BWM.2 circular on the protocol for verification of ballast water compliance monitoring devices.

Unified interpretation

MEPC 80 approved a Unified Interpretation to the form of the International Ballast Water Management Certificate and Regulations B-3.5 and B-3.10 of the BWM Convention regarding the “date of construction” for a ship which has undergone a major conversion.

Air pollution

Gas fuels and low-flashpoint fuels

MEPC 80 approved amendments to MARPOL Annex VI clarifying the definition of fuel oil and defining gas fuels consistent with the IGF Code. The amendments also state that all fuels require a bunker delivery note, but gas fuels and low-flashpoint fuels are not required to provide information on density, sulphur content and flashpoint, and are also not required to provide a sampling point. 

Marine diesel engines replacing steam systems

MEPC 80 approved amendments to Regulation 13.2.2 of MARPOL Annex VI accepting that marine diesel engines replacing steam systems, as “replacement engines” if complying with the requirements introduced for steam systems with respect to non-identical replacement engines, are not required to meet the Tier III limit. The related Unified Interpretation was updated as a consequence of these amendments.

Thermal waste treatment devices

Recognizing the need for alternative methods to comply with the standards set forth in Regulation 16 of MARPOL Annex VI on shipboard incineration, MEPC 80 adopted the “Guidelines for Thermal Waste Treatment Devices”. The guidelines are technology-neutral and goal-based, and may be applied to any thermal waste treatment device using, for example, gasification, hydrothermal carbonization, pyrolysis or plasma, or other thermal means for the disposal of waste generated on board, as an alternative to conventional incinerators.

Unified Interpretations

MEPC 80 approved a Unified Interpretation to Regulations 18.5 and 18.6 of MARPOL Annex VI that the Bunker Delivery Note (BDN) is acceptable in either a hard copy or electronic format. 

Energy efficiency

Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI)

MEPC 80 agreed on a correction of the comparison of tank sizes for dual fuel engines in the EEDI survey and certification guidelines. For gas fuel, the reference to “tank filling” is replaced by a reference to "tank loading limit in the IGF and/or IGC Codes”.

The application of the concept of overridable shaft/engine power limitation (ShaPoLi/EPL) under the EEDI framework was discussed. There was no agreement on how it should be applied, although it was agreed that an overridable solution would require adjustments in the NOx Technical Code.

Reporting of the use of the power reserve for ShaPoLi/EPL systems in the EEXI framework

MEPC 80 adopted the revised “Guidelines on the Shaft/Engine Power Limitation System to Comply with the EEXI Requirements and Use of a Power Reserve” setting out uniform reporting requirements, and a format for reporting on the use of a power reserve to the administration.

Review of the Energy Efficiency Existing Ships Index (EEXI) and Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII)

MEPC 80 agreed on a plan for reviewing the short-term GHG reduction measures, the CII and EEXI. The plan stipulates a data-gathering phase until MEPC 82 in autumn 2024, before analysing the data and finalizing any amendments to the measures by MEPC 83 in summer 2025. This includes CII reduction requirements from 2026 to 2030 aligned with the carbon intensity target in the revised IMO GHG Strategy. There will be no immediate changes to the CII framework, including correction factors and voyage adjustments, before the review is completed by the end of 2025. 

Revision of the Data Collection System (DCS)

MEPC 80 approved amendments to Appendix IX of MARPOL Annex VI, adding further data elements to be reported through the DCS, such as fuel consumption per fuel type and energy consumer and transport work. The amendments also include changes to the accessibility of data in Regulation 27, where data can be made available for consultants contracted by the IMO under a strict confidentiality agreement. Ship companies can now also opt to make the DCS data submitted to the IMO publicly available. 

Use of biofuels under the DCS and CII

MEPC 80 agreed on a circular providing a common approach to account for the use of biofuels under Regulations 26, 27 and 28 of MARPOL Annex VI (DCS and CII). Biofuels that have been certified by an international certification scheme (referring to schemes approved for international aviation), meeting its sustainability criteria, and that provide a well-to-wake GHG emissions reduction of at least 65% compared to the well-to-wake emissions of fossil MGO, can use a CO2 conversion factor equal to the well-to-wake GHG emissions factor. The approach should be considered temporary until the regulations can apply the methods in the LCA guidelines. 

Reduction of GHG emissions

Revision of the IMO GHG Strategy

The ambitions for international shipping were significantly strengthened from the 50% GHG reduction ambition by 2050 in the initial strategy. The revised strategy now aims for reducing well-to-wake GHG emissions by 20%, striving for 30% in 2030 and then 70%, striving for 80%, in 2040 compared to 2008, and reach net-zero “by or around, i.e. close to, 2050”. There is also a 2030 target to achieve an uptake of zero or near-zero GHG emissions technologies, fuels and/or energy sources, representing at least 5%, striving for 10%, of the energy used by international shipping.

The GHG Strategy now also addresses life-cycle GHG emissions from shipping, with the overall objective of reducing GHG emissions within the boundaries of the energy system of international shipping and preventing a shift of emissions to other sectors.

Mid and long-term measures to reduce GHG emissions

To ensure that shipping reaches these ambitions, the IMO has decided to implement a basket of measures consisting of two parts; Firstly, a technical element which will be a goal-based marine fuel standard regulating the phased reduction of marine fuel GHG intensity; Secondly, an economic element which will be some form of a maritime GHG emissions pricing mechanism, potentially linked directly to the GHG intensity mechanism.

The development of the measures will continue at the IMO and will, according to the agreed timeline, be adopted in 2025 and enter into force in around mid-2027.

Lifecycle GHG/carbon intensity for marine fuels

MEPC 80 adopted the “Guidelines on Life Cycle GHG Intensity of Marine Fuels” (LCA Guidelines), which set out methods for calculating well-to-wake and tank-to-wake GHG emissions for all fuels and other energy carriers (e.g. electricity) used on board a ship. These guidelines also specify sustainability topics/aspects for marine fuels and define a Fuel Lifecycle Label (FLL) that collects and conveys the information relevant for the life cycle assessment. Preliminary default emissions factors for various fuels and fuel pathways are provided, but these factors will be further reviewed. 

These guidelines do not include any provision for application or requirements; they are intended to support the GHG Fuel Standard under development. The IMO guidelines will be kept under review and developed further in the coming years, in particular focusing on default emissions factors, sustainability criteria, fuel certification and handling of on-board carbon capture. 

On-board CO2 capture

MEPC 80 considered initiating a work process on the application of on-board carbon capture and storage or utilization, but decided to postpone further discussion on this matter to the next intersessional meeting of the Working Group on GHG reductions. This is expected to take place the week before MEPC 81 in April 2024, and to be linked to the further work on the LCA guidelines.

Marine plastic litter

To better manage fishing operations contributing to marine plastic litter and improve the daily routines for the handling of fishing gear on board fishing vessels, a proposal for requiring a ship-specific plan for the on-board management of fishing gear gained general support. It was decided to instruct PPR to further consider the proposal and advise on the way forward.

Identification and protection of special areas and Particular Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs)

MEPC 80 agreed that:

  • The Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden special areas under MARPOL Annex I (Oil) take effect from 1 January 2025
  • The Red Sea special area under MARPOL Annex V (Garbage) takes effect from 1 January 2025
  • A new PSSA in the North-Western Mediterranean Sea bordering France, Italy, Monaco and Spain, to protect whales from international shipping, is to be designated 

Other matters

Underwater radiated noise (URN)

MEPC 80 adopted the revised “Guidelines for the Reduction of Underwater Radiated Noise from Shipping to Address Adverse Impacts on Marine Life”. The purpose is to provide an overview of approaches applicable to designers, shipbuilders and ship operators to reduce the URN of any given ship and to assist relevant stakeholders in establishing mechanisms and programmes through which noise reduction efforts can be realized.

Ship recycling

MEPC 80 adopted the revised “Guidelines for the Development of the Inventory of Hazardous Materials” as a consequence of the controls on cybutryne included in the Anti-fouling Convention.

Work programme

MEPC 80 agreed to new outputs to the work programme as follows: 

  • A new output to amend the 2017 guidelines addressing additional aspects of the NOx Technical Code 2008 with regard to particular requirements related to marine diesel engines fitted with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR)
  • A new output to amend the NOx Technical Code 2008 to revise the process for retrofitting existing engines on board

Provisional list of resolutions and circulars

You can find the list below in our PDF version of this news (pages 3-4).


DNV recommends that our customers take into account the strengthened GHG reduction ambitions when considering energy efficiency and GHG reduction options for the existing fleet and newbuilds and note the expected entry into force of new regulations around mid-2027. Ship managers and fuel suppliers should further note the circular on biofuels setting out uniform application criteria.

FREE WEBINAR, 11 July: MEPC 80: Increased emission reduction ambitions in revised IMO GHG strategy

We also recommend SIGNING UP for our dedicated webinar, discussing the increased emissions reduction ambitions as part of the MEPC 80.


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