E.U. Emissions Vote Disappoints Industry

EU Parliament
E.U. Parliament

By MarEx 2017-02-15 17:32:22

By majority vote, the Members of the European Parliament have agreed to include shipping in the European Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) Directive as of 2023, unless there is a comparable system agreed under the auspices of the IMO by the end of 2021.

This is not the final text of the revised ETS Directive, which, originally, did not include shipping; it represents the European Parliament’s position for negotiations with the E.U. Council (Member States). These negotiations will start as soon as the Council/Member States have agreed on their own position, which is expected in the next few weeks.

However, the news has still met with wide disapproval.

“INTERTANKO and its members consider the E.U. Parliament’s ambition as totally counter-productive,” said INTERTANKO Technical Director Dragos Rauta. “This undermines the work undertaken by IMO and may upset the spirit of cooperation under which IMO develops global rules for a global industry.”

The E.U. Parliament’s move could be perceived as “urging” IMO to accelerate its rule development. However, the IMO Roadmap, adopted in October 2016, already clearly defines tasks and timelines for the development of regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships. 

The Roadmap is directly aligned with target dates for actions under the Paris Agreement with the strategy to meet Paris’ objectives to be adopted in 2018, followed by an implementation plan with specific targets and measures following in 2023, says INTERTANKO. The timing of the roadmap is entirely consistent with the timeframe agreed in Paris, providing for a harmonised international regime.

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) – which represents over 80 percent of the world merchant fleet – says it is disappointed but not surprised.

ICS Director of Policy & External Relations, Simon Bennett, says: “The vote completely ignores the real progress that has already been made by IMO – which under the Kyoto Protocol, to which E.U. Member States are signatory, has a mandate to address CO2 emissions from international shipping.”

IMO adopted technical regulations as long ago as 2011 which will ensure that all ships built in eight years’ time will be at least 30 percent more CO2 efficient than most of the fleet operating today, and the global shipping sector has already dramatically reduced its total CO2 emissions despite an increase in global trade. (A 10 percent reduction over a five year period was recorded by the 2014 IMO Green House Study, which is the latest available data).

Bennett says that trying to include thousands of small shipping companies – including thousands of companies not based in the E.U. – into a system designed for major E.U. power generating companies and steel and cement producers is only going to complicate the reform.

“As we saw when the E.U. unsuccessfully tried to impose the ETS on international aviation, non-E.U. Governments are not going to take kindly to being told that ships flying their flag, when visiting E.U. ports, may have to pay money into E.U. schemes designed to help subsidise the closure of European coal mines.” Bennett said.   

The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) believes that a six-year period until E.U. measures are put in place is sufficient time for the IMO to discuss and agree on the necessary target and measures. 2023 must therefore be seen as a milestone. In case this deadline is not met, E.U. measures will have to be introduced. It should however be clear that in case of an international agreement by 2023, the E.U. measures are to be repealed.

“The Paris Agreement has delivered tremendous results due to the international cooperation and the active engagement of developing and developed countries. As climate change is a global threat and shipping an international sector, it’s clear that a regional approach is not preferable. The IMO is by far the right place to introduce a target and measures for shipping emissions. 

“Today’s vote in Parliament should be seen as an encouragement for a global solution, given that the foreseen deadline of 2023 is respected. If, however, the IMO will not deliver an emissions reduction target and measures to implement it by 2023, an EU approach seems unavoidable. We therefore hope that the IMO will speed up the process and demonstrate the same level of ambition when addressing climate change as it did on the global air pollution cap agreed last October,” says ESPO’s Secretary General, Isabelle Ryckbost.

European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven said: “Putting unrealistic pressure on IMO with regional measures that will gravely hurt a global sector and do very little for climate is not the way to proceed. It will unduly complicate the achievement of an effective and timely global agreement in IMO that everyone in the end wants.”