Ballast delay likely but what of GHG?
MEPC 71 looks set to be one of the most likely in recent times to upset environmentalists. As expected it now looks as if the implementation date for the ballast water convention could be delayed with 2024 now the final date for ships to comply. That would not be all ships but only those with an IOPP renewal date for that year. The final phased compliance would begin in 2019. That proposal could still be rejected but from a pragmatic point of view it is likely one that the IMO can live with. It may not help all ships delay installations. There is still the US ballast regulations to consider and for ships sailing to US waters the compliance dates will likely be earlier. The next battle for the green lobby is to persuade the IMO – or to be more precise the member states of the IMO – to tighten the regulations on GHG emissions. The decision of the US to withdraw from the Paris agreement and the likelihood that the US delegation to MEPC will be under new instructions has meant that one bastion of support for controls has very probably gone. The EU will surely push the matter as it appears so will many smaller countries from the Pacific region including the Marshall Islands which met with representatives from France, Denmark and Germany earlier this year. It remains to be seen how many countries will support measures which, despite announcements in support from international shipping bodies, many shipowners are wary of believing they will inevitably add to costs either in new equipment or in levies on fossil fuels. Liberia which was an early signatory to the ballast water convention has become one of its most vociferous critics and was behind the push to delay implementation, if it and Panama were more supportive of the wishes of their shipowners that could delay any new measures. It also remains to be seen which side countries such as India and China which benefit from the common but differentiated responsibilities rules will come down on if the demands for a level playing field are taken to their logical ends.