In a joint statement issued yesterday, Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas and Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard implicitly said that the Commission will for the time being not be looking to introduce a specific European market-based instrument to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships.
“A simple, robust and globally-feasible approach towards setting a system for monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions based on fuel consumption is the necessary starting point”, the statement said, “This will help make progress at global level and feed into the IMO process. It is therefore our joint intention to pursue such a monitoring, reporting and verification system in early 2013. At the same time, we will continue the debate with stakeholders on which measure can successfully address the EU’s greenhouse gas reduction objectives.” The statement also included a call to the industry to take its responsibility: “The shipping industry itself is best placed to take the lead in delivering fast and effective greenhouse gas emission reductions – thereby cutting cost and making the sector fit for the future.” Officially, the possibility of an EU market-based instrument is not completely swept off the table. An impact assessment of the different options at hand is still ongoing. But in an exclusive interview with Lloyd’s List, Commissioner Kallas said that the decision to pull back from regional measures should give global negotiations within the International Maritime Organization room to succeed. “The priority for Brussels now”, he said, “is to pursue pragmatic, sector-based solutions.” It is not clear yet how the Commission’s proposal for a monitoring, reporting and verification scheme would work. According to Lloyd’s List, initial suggestions point to shipowners being required to strictly monitor and report details of fuel burned against cargo carried. Findings based on this information would then feed into global discussions, forming the basis for a voluntary market-based mechanism that would ultimately become mandatory. This would closely align the EU strategy with the US proposal for a phased approach and could end the deadlock in the international debate over market-based mechanisms within the IMO and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The announcement of the Commission was big news this morning at the GreenPort Congress, which is being held in Marseilles this week. “As ports we believe this is positive”, said ESPO Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven, “Shipping is a global business and it is therefore good that the Commission now focuses on getting an international agreement in place. We especially like the Commission’s call upon the industry to take the lead in delivering reductions. This matches the pro-active approach we follow in ESPO. It is for instance clear from this congress that both shipping and ports have good stories to tell when it comes to improving their environmental performance. But maybe we should become more articulate about them to the outside world.” Later this afternoon, ESPO will be presenting its new ‘Green Guide’ at the Marseilles conference, which is an example of how industry can work pro-actively together towards improving its environmental performance and sustainability