On Wednesday, the European Community Shipowners Association praised EU-Chinese cooperation on furthering a climate change agreement for shipping, especially in light of U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to exit the Paris Agreement on CO2 emissions.
"We are stepping up our cooperation on climate change with China," said EU President Donald Tusk at the 19th EU-China Summit last week. "China and Europe have demonstrated solidarity with future generations and responsibility for the whole planet." As part of this cooperative agenda, the EU and China announced the launch of the "EU-China Blue Year," a series of consultative meetings to "reinforce China-EU cooperation on ocean affairs in the medium to long term," including ocean data collection and research.
"We are . . . pleased that the EU and China appear to be working towards reinforced co-operation on delivering a climate agreement for shipping at the International Maritime Organization," said ECSA Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven. "The withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement should not jeopardise an ambitious global strategy to reduce the CO2 emissions of shipping."
The shipping industry – as represented by ECSA, ICS and two other organizations – has called on IMO to set climate targets for shipping at the MEPC 71 meeting on July 3-7. These proposed targets include maintaining total emissions below 2008 levels and reducing them by a yet-to-be-determined percentage by 2050. “We call upon the EU and China, and indeed all IMO Member States, to support the industry proposals,” said ICS Secretary General Peter Hinchliffe, "The priority of governments should be to focus on the development of alternative, fossil-free fuels and IMO should assess whether holding CO2 below 2008 levels can be achieved with technical and operational measures alone.”
Both ICS and ECSA stressed their opposition to regional climate regulations, as recently contemplated by the European Parliament. IMO intends to formalize a CO2 regulation framework by 2023, two years after an EU deadline for an international emissions plan for shipping. If IMO does not reach a plan by 2021, European shipping would be subject to the terms of the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for shoreside industries.
'"We remain firmly opposed to a patchwork of regional schemes that would distort international shipping markets while doing little to tackle the reduction of the global industry’s actual emissions", the two representative associations said. “It will anger developing nations that have agreed to participate in the IMO process despite their concerns about the implications for their economic development, making the prospect of a global agreement on truly meaningful CO2 reductions far more difficult if not impossible."
Greenhouse gas discussions for MEPC 71 will begin the week before the IMO’s formal meeting. In addition to the regulation of greenhouse gases, MEPC 71 will also take up the matters of ballast water management; air pollution; energy efficiency; pollution prevention and response; and technical cooperation activities for protection of the marine environment.