IMO is holding separate talks apart from a broader U.N. climate pact on which about 190 nations will try to agree at the end of the year during talks on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.
Delegates at the U.N.'s shipping agency will likely agree at a meeting in March that it is mandatory for flagship countries to check how energy efficient a new ship is, the chairman of the meeting said on Monday. But how further the sector's energy efficiency should improve to cut greenhouse gas emissions in coming years is to be discussed later, said Koichi Yoshida, chairman of a working group on the gases blamed for global warming under the International Maritime Organization (IMO). "We're seeking a mandatory reporting. But that would not be bound to a target of emissions to cut," Yoshida said in an interview, referring to a duty on shipbuilders.
The shipping sector contributes about 3 percent of the world's emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, and this is expected to keep rising because of growing demand for goods, despite a downturn for now due to global recession.
Given the global nature of shipping, IMO is holding separate talks apart from a broader U.N. climate pact on which about 190 nations will try to agree at the end of the year during talks on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.
Another agenda item to be discussed by IMO's meetings later this year is whether the European Union's idea to incorporate shipping into a global emissions trading scheme is feasible and if there is any alternative scheme to help developing countries to join, Yoshida said.
Yoshida is director, centre for international cooperation at National Maritime Research Institute, Japan.
Developing countries including China have agreed on improving maritime energy efficiency and introducing yardsticks on ship emissions, but are concerned any cap on emissions, like the EU's scheme, would hurt their economic growth.
The EU has prepared unilateral action to tackle shipping emissions in case its push for a global deal fails.
"A different idea on the table is pooling funds from emissions charges on marine fuels and utilising the funds to help developing countries to cut emissions not only in the maritime sector but in general," Yoshida said.
As for existing ships, the March meeting will likely agree that an operating company should report to either a flagship country or a country the company belongs to on how to manage a ship's operation in an energy-efficient manner, he added.
"A measures to gauge a ship's energy efficiency should be systematic, transparent and verifiable, so that it would benefit those who do make the difference," Yoshida said.