Decision by the IMO will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from shipping

Ministry of Transport and Communications
Publication date 15.7.2011 21.22
Press release


On Friday, the International Maritime Organization adopted regulations that will increase the energy efficiency of new ships. The fuel consumption of new ships will decrease and carbon dioxide emissions from ships will be reduced. The newly passed regulations have been in preparation for several years. A solution was reached after intensive negotiations that lasted the entire week.

The new regulations also include a proposal, strongly advocated by Finland, on special features for ice-strengthened ships. In practical terms, this means that the special characteristics of ice-strengthened ships will be taken into account in the application of the new regulations on ship design. This will ensure that vessels moving in ice are not placed at a disadvantage compared with ones that sail in open water only. Higher engine power will be allowed for ice-strengthened vessels whose hull will also be constructed stronger than in ships travelling in open water.

The concern expressed by developing countries regarding the level of technological competence was settled by an agreement to promote cooperation in the shipbuilding industry, for example.

The basic idea behind the energy-efficiency regulations is that an Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) be calculated for each new ship in the design phase. This value consists of the relation between the amount of carbon dioxide produced by the ship's engines and the amount of cargo it carries. The calculation assumes that a ship is moving at a speed corresponding to 75 percent of its engine power.

Reference curves have been defined for each ship category. They have been calculated as the average of the EEDI values calculated for all ships constructed over the past 10 years.

The energy-efficiency regulations will be applied to new ships with gross tonnage of more than 400 GT. The EEDI value of a single ship must be smaller than the reference curve. In the initial phase, the procedure will only be applied to certain types of ships, such as dry-cargo vessels, oil and gas tankers and container ships.

At the first stage, the regulations will not be applied to RORO (roll-on/roll-off) ships or to ROPAX (roll-on/roll-off passenger) vessels. For them, work to specify appropriate rules at the IMO will continue. This has also been the Finnish policy in the issue.

Ships' energy-efficiency regulations will be included in the Annex on the Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships of the MARPOL Convention. They are intended to take effect in 2013. The newly adopted regulations only apply to new ships.


The work to curb climate change at the IMO will continue. Financial instruments - that is, the pricing of a ton of carbon - are an effort to encourage shipping companies to take measures to reduce the fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions of ships.

Finland considers that a solution for the use of financial instruments can be found at a global level, and the matter should be agreed on at the IMO. An international agreement is the optimal solution to promote environmental objectives as well as to reduce carbon leakage and distortions in competition.

According to a review made by the organization, shipping only accounts for approximately three percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. However, the need for transportation is constantly growing, especially in Asia. If no measures are taken, maritime traffic's proportion of all emissions may be as high as 18 percent by the year 2050.


A step forward was taken in the enhancement of the state of the Baltic Sea when the IMO decided to designate it as a special area where passenger ships are not allowed to release into the sea raw sewage that has not been treated as far as nutrients are concerned. According to the new regulations, passenger ships can either discharge their wastewater at ports or treat it at their own wastewater treatment plants. This will reduce nutrient load particularly at shipping lanes with heavy traffic.

The increasing popularity of cruises has increased the nutrient loading of the Baltic Sea. As a result of eutrophication, blue-green algae have become more abundant and the underwater nature has changed significantly. Even though ship traffic is only one of many sources of emissions, it is significant at the local level. The nutrient load caused by cruise ships is in a form that the algae can use directly. Furthermore, most emissions take place in the summer when algae production is at its most abundant. Finnish passenger service companies already leave their wastewater at ports.

In HELCOM cooperation, countries around the Baltic Sea have agreed on a roadmap according to which the wastewater reception capacity of ports in the Baltic Sea area will be improved. A collaboration group for the Baltic Sea area has been established to speed up the work. Participants include, for example, ports, wastewater treatment plants, public authorities and cruise companies.

Further information:
Senior Adviser Lolan Eriksson, tel. +358 40 744 8118, [email protected]