EU continues to clamp down on emissions from shipping

Maritime transport remains the only sector with no specific EU commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The majority of the global shipping industry is not included in the Paris Agreement's binding commitments, and is instead shipping emissions are currently regulated by the International Maritime Organisation's non-binding targets. Shipping is estimated to account for 2-3% of total global emissions, while the current non-binding targets do not meet the level of ambition required to meet the UN's 2C or 1.5C warming goals.

The industry's greenhose emissions are higher than the emissions of any EU member state. In 2015 in the EU, 13 % of the overall EU greenhouse gas emissions came from the transport sector, while the EU's proposed 'Green Deal' would seek to create binding CO2 reduction targets that are significantly more ambitious over a shorter timeframe than the IMO's current rules. Further to this, the EU Commission's Environment Committee voted on Tuesday to include CO2 emissions from the maritime sector in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).

The Commission has put forward a proposal to revise the EU system for monitoring, reporting and verifying CO2 emissions from maritime transport (the “EU MRV Regulation”) and bring it in line with new obligations under International Maritime Organisation to monitor emissions from 2019 and report in 2020.

In the legislative report approved on Tuesday, the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee of the EU Parliament called for more ambition and voted to include ships of 5000 gross tonnage and above in the EU Emissions Trading System. In addition, MEPs say that market-based emissions reduction policies are not enough, so they also introduced binding requirements for shipping companies to reduce their annual average CO2 emissions per transport work, for all their ships, by at least 40% by 2030

Jutta Paulus, German MEP for Alliance 90/The Greens and member of the committee, said:
"Today, we are sending a strong signal in line with the European Green Deal and the climate emergency: Monitoring and reporting CO2 emissions is important, but statistics alone do not save a single gram of greenhouse gas! That’s why we are going further than the Commission proposal and demanding tougher measures to reduce emissions from maritime shipping".

The committee also called for the creation of a new “Ocean Fund” between 2023 to 2030, financed by revenues from auctioning carbon credits allowances under the Emissions Trading Scheme, to make ships more energy efficient and to support investment in innovative technologies and infrastructure, such as alternative fuel and green ports. Under their proposal,  20% of the revenues of the Fund would be used to contribute to protecting, restoring and efficiently managing marine ecosystems impacted by global warming.

Regardless of the EU's actions, international efforts are still required. The EU and the International Maritime Organistion currently diverge on reporting obligations as well as targets, and in the commoditised and globalised maritime market regional regulations can place a barrier on trade. However, as the International Maritime Organisation has lagged behind the EU, as well as other major institutions, it is generally considered that they have made insufficient progress in striving to meet the targets set out by the Paris Agreement. It is hoped that the EU can put pressure on the Organisation to facilitate a global ambitious agreement on GHG emissions from shipping in the near future.

This legislation should be adopted by the EU Parliament's Plenary during 14 - 17 September session in Strasbourg, and the parliament will start negotiations with member states on the final shape of the legislation shortly afterwards.