The United States has proposed launching a global scheme to force all ships to measure and eventually reduce the rate at which they consume energy in a bid to cut emissions of gases blamed for global warming.
From this year, some new ships being built will have to adhere to minimum energy efficiency levels and improve them 10 percent every five years, measures that will have a small bearing on the sector’s output of climate-changing gases.
But at an annual meeting of the International Maritime’s Organization environment panel in London on Monday, the United States proposed all ships should measure and eventually limit the amount of joules of energy used for each hour they are in service.
If eventually adopted, the sector could escape being regulated under the EU’s carbon market.
“From the U.S. position it’s very clear market-based-mechanisms have had a difficult time at the IMO and weren’t progressing quickly... This is the best way to make progress on this issue for the foreseeable future,” said Kim Carnahan, a negotiator at the U.S. Office of Global Climate Change.
She said if the scheme was implemented and tough enough targets were set it could be an effective tool to cut greenhouse gas emissions and rule out the need for any other market-based-mechanisms.
International shipping emissions were omitted from national commitments under the United Nation’s 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which ceded control to the IMO.
The EU has threatened to enforce its own measures to curb CO2 from ships if the IMO fails to act on a global level, and has suggested it could bring the sector into its Emissions Trading Scheme.
In 2008 the EU passed law to bring aviation into its ETS from 2013.
But after fierce opposition from the United States and China, the European Commission has delayed the full roll out of the scheme for a year to give the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) enough time to craft its own plan.
Shipping accounts for around 3.3 percent of the world's man-made carbon dioxide emissions and could grow by 150 to 250 percent by 2050 if regulation is not in place, according to an IMO study.
By Susanna Twidale, Reuters Point Carbon (C) Reuters 2013.