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Progress on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Lifecycle Guidelines for Low- and Zero-Carbon Alternative Marine Fuels


An The International Maritime Organization (IMO) working group has made concrete progress in developing guidelines on the intensity of GHG / carbon emissions (LCA guidelines) over the life cycle, to be used when assessing the global climate impact of new fuels, to which maritime transport must make the transition in order to meet GHG reduction ambitions, as set out in the IMO’s initial GHG strategy .

The Intersessional Working Group on Reducing GHG Emissions from Ships (ISWG-GHG 9), which met from September 15-17, considered a number of submissions from Member States and international organizations, including including proposed life cycle guidelines.

Life cycle refers to the assessment of GHG emissions from fuel production to final use on board a ship (Well-to-Wake); including from primary production to transporting fuel to a vessel’s tank (Well-to-Tank, also known as upstream emissions) and from the vessel’s fuel tank to the exhaust (Tank-to -Propeller or Tank-to-Wake, also known as downstream emissions).

Low and zero carbon fuels will be needed to decarbonize shipping. For different fuel options, it is necessary to consider issues such as safety, regulation, pricing, infrastructure availability, life cycle GHG emissions, supply chain constraints, barriers to adoption, etc.

Future low and zero carbon fuels for maritime transport have various production pathways (e.g. different generations of biofuels or hydrogen-based fuels produced by renewable energy sources or fossil fuels) resulting in significant differences in their overall environmental footprint. The IMO LCA guidelines will establish a common framework for the lifecycle assessment of the GHG intensity of marine fuels, covering both the upstream and downstream parts.

Determining lifecycle GHG intensity values ​​for a wide range of fuels requires assessments using a scientific approach. In this regard, the Group agreed that there was a need to develop a procedure with clear and objective criteria to be used to determine the default emission values ​​or the actual values ​​in certain circumstances, including documentation, verification and certification.

The group identified priority areas for further work to advance the development of the guidelines, including the identification of sustainability criteria, appropriate fuel certification systems and approaches for regular review by the IMO. upstream and downstream emission values ​​(default).

The group invited IMO members to strengthen their collaboration, taking into account the views expressed at ISWG-GHG 9, with a view to submitting proposals at a future session.

The Group also examined proposals aimed at reducing methane slip and Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions.

The next meeting of the Intersessional GHG Working Group (ISWG – GHG 10) will take place from October 18-22. This session will consider, inter alia, proposals for medium-term measures to reduce GHG emissions, including a number of submissions related to possible market-based measures. This is in line with the work plan approved by MEPC 76 (June 2021).
Source: IMO