EU Urged to Include Shipping Emissions in 2030 Climate Target

Members of the European Parliament have urged Europe to include shipping emissions in the 2030 emissions reduction target through a maritime climate fund, in response to the decision by International Maritime Organization (IMO) to prolong any decision on a global agreement to cut emissions from shipping, Transport & Environment (T&E) said.  

There is already cross-party support for the proposal, T&E said. This would see shipowners purchase Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) allowances from 2021 onwards or pay an equivalent amount into the new fund, which would buy allowances on participants’ behalf, thereby minimizing the administrative burden.

The fund would also rebate a portion of revenues back to the shipping industry to finance innovative low-carbon technologies to clean up the sector and ports.

“The shipping sector must play its role in Europe’s transition to a low-carbon society. But time is of the essence and, in the absence of IMO action, the EU must include ships’ emissions in its 2030 climate target,” Jytte Guteland, Socialist (S&D) MEP, shadow rapporteur for the revision of the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS), said.

The IMO decided in October to prolong any decision on a global agreement to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for at least a further seven years.

Several senior members of the European Parliament called the delay “an abject failure” by national governments and the shipping industry. The members of the parliament also called on Europe to maintain the EU’s own law on the transparent collection and reporting of CO2 emissions data (the EU MRV).

The IMO first established a work plan on ship GHGs in 2003, which, according to T&E, saw some progress on the identification and analysis of potential global market-based mechanisms until the work “was stopped abruptly in 2011.”

The IMO environment protection committee last month decided to create a fresh process for more talks, despite the Paris climate agreement’s call for urgent action to limit global warming to 1.5/2°C, T&E said.

Governments also abandoned a review of ship efficiency targets until 2018 at the earliest, turning down an “easy opportunity to act on climate change,” according to T&E.

The Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), regulating the energy efficiency of new ships, was agreed in 2011 but subsequent analyses showed it to be ineffective with many new ships already on the waters exceeding 2020 and even 2025 targets by a wide margin. But despite a majority of countries wanting to review its stringency, any work to do so is unlikely to proceed before 2018, T&E said.

Confirmation that the IMO’s own data collection system will remain secret was also criticized, according to T&E. As ship registries compete against each other, measurements of ship efficiency will use proxy data and users will not have access to real numbers.

The IMO, which was first tasked with addressing the sector’s climate impact 19 years ago, now wants the EU to dismantle its more transparent and accurate system, according to T&E.

“Calls to dump transparency from the EU system need to be firmly rebutted. The EU must provide citizens, ports and shippers with quality data on individual ship energy performance if market forces are to play a role in decarbonising the sector,” José Inácio Faria, Liberal (ALDE) MEP, ex-rapporteur for the EU ship CO2 data collection regulation, said.

“Since the IMO will not be considering, let alone proposing, any emissions reduction measures for many years to come, our duty is to make sure that Europe takes action,” Bas Eickhout, Green MEP, shadow rapporteur for the revision of the ETS, added.

T&E said that despite shipping having escaped an explicit reference in the Paris Agreement, all countries are now legally bound to pursue efforts to limit a temperature increase well below 2°C, and that means countries regulating shipping emissions.

“The longer the shipping industry delays climate measures, the steeper the emission cuts will have to be to keep within the world’s rapidly shrinking carbon budget,” Bill Hemmings, T&E shipping director, said.

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