Liberia Gets Top IMO Seat

After a failed attempt to get a seat on the Council of the International Maritime Organization IMO, and with a new sheriff arriving in town in Moses Owen Browne, Liberia is gradually regaining its place in the Maritime World.

This is evident by the recent re-election of Mr. Harry T. Conway, Alternate Permanent Representative of Liberia as Vice Chairman of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London, United Kingdom.

Conway's election which was as a result of a nomination by Singapore, seconded by Finland and supported by several other Member States of the IMO, came at the close of the Seventy Fifth Extraordinary Session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee in London.

In its support, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) delegation praised Mr. Conway for his effective and efficient performance during the last three years of the MEPC sessions - stating "Mr. Conway is overqualified and has the requisite technical expertise to deliver in the coming years."

Dr.Hideaki Saito of the Republic of Japan was also re-elected Chairman of MEPC.

The MEPC 75th Session reached many key decisions. The approval and adoption of amendments to MARPOL Annex VI were central. In this regard, the Committee approved the 4th IMO GHG Study and short-term measures to cut GHG emissions from international shipping. Mr. Conway of Liberia coordinated the work of the Steering Committee for the 4th IMO GHG Study.

The new rules build on current mandatory energy efficiency requirements to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping. The MEPC also agreed on the terms of reference for assessing the possible impacts on States, paying particular attention to the needs of developing countries, in particular Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs). A Steering Committee under the coordination of Mr. Conway is to oversee the work.

The draft amendments to the MARPOL convention would require ships to combine a technical and an operational approach to reduce their carbon intensity. This is in line with the ambition of the Initial IMO GHG Strategy, which aims to reduce carbon intensity of international shipping by 40% by 2030; 50% by 2050 and zero by the end of the century compared to 2008.

The amendments were developed by the seventh session of the Intercessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (ISWG-GHG 7), held as a remote meeting 19-23 October 2020.

The draft amendments will now be put forward for formal adoption at MEPC 76 session in May 2021.

Harry T. Conway

The IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim, said, "Considerable further work on the implementation of the measures is still ahead of us, but I am confident that, the IMO spirit of cooperation, shown during the past years, will enable swift progress with the development of technical guidelines and a Carbon Intensity Code as well as the essential further work on the comprehensive assessment of impacts of the measures on developing countries, SIDs and LDCs. I express my gratitude to all Member States that have indicated a commitment to supporting these efforts."

He said the approved amendments were important building blocks without which future discussions on mid and long-term measures will not be possible.

The progress in developing the short-term measures follows the timeline as set out in the initial IMO GHG strategy. The strategy proposed that short-term measures should be those measures finalized and agreed by the Committee between 2018 and 2023.

Mr. Conway during his acceptance speech promised to continue to work with colleagues and member states of the IMO to promote the work of the MEPC in addressing the numerous issues the IMO has to deliver on.

Also, Liberia's Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization, Moses Browne described the re-election of Liberia on the MEPC as welcoming news. He mentioned that the election signals that Liberia is back on track to regain its rightful place amongst the comity of Nations at the IMO as the second largest open registry globally with more than 150million of the world's gross tonnage.

Background

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) is one of five main committees of the IMO. It addresses environmental issues under IMO's remit. This includes the control and prevention of ship-source pollution covered by the MARPOL treaty, including oil, chemicals carried in bulk, sewage, garbage and emissions from ships, including air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. Other matters covered include ballast water management, anti-fouling systems, ship recycling, pollution preparedness and response, and identification of special areas and particularly sensitive sea areas

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