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MEPs’ 2016 climate deadline for IMO unrealistic, shipowners say

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Patrick Verhoeven

Patrick Verhoeven

European shipowners note Wednesday’s European Parliament resolution, which constitutes the mandate for the EP delegation to the Paris COP 21 meeting in December, and issue a warning call. MEPs call for all Parties to work through the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to develop a global policy framework to enable an effective response, and to take measures to set adequate targets before the end of 2016 for achieving the necessary reductions in the light of the 2 °C target.

Commenting on the resolution,  Patrick Verhoeven ECSA Secretary General said: “We are happy to see that the European Parliament recognises the importance of a global solution for international shipping and gives a vote of confidence to the IMO, which should be allowed to pursue its efforts.”

”We are however also concerned by the deadline adopted by MEPs on Wednesday. 2016 is right around the corner and as such it is rather unrealistic to expect the IMO to come up with a solution in a matter of months. A unilateral European push for a hard deadline may be counterproductive.” continued Patrick Verhoeven, referring to the need for global rules for the shipping, an industry as international as few others.

The IMO’s track record in developing technical CO2 energy efficiency measures for the maritime sector is impressive. Following the adoption of the amendments to MARPOL Annex VI, which came into force worldwide in 2011 and which now apply to about 95% of the global merchant fleet, international shipping is the only industrial sector already covered by mandatory and binding global measures. The IMO also recently adopted the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), which requires all ships constructed after 2025 to be 30% more efficient that those built in the 2000s, with further efficiency improvements going forward. Finally, the shipping industry itself, prompted by an increase in bunker prices, has made strides in increasing its energy efficiency and curbing its CO2 emissions.

As a result of recent efforts, the contribution of shipping to global CO2 emissions has in fact dropped. According to the latest IMO Green House Gas study, published in 2014, international shipping (while transporting about 90% of world trade) produces about 2.2% of the world’s total CO2 emissions. This figure was 2.8% in 2007, and the total CO2 emissions from shipping reduced by over 10% between 2007 and 2012. This was despite continuing growth in maritime trade which means that shipping is already delivering carbon neutral growth.

”The 2016 deadline is not consistent with the steps already taken at EU level” commented Benoit Loicq, ECSA Safety and Environment Director. “By pushing for an extremely tight deadline, the EU would essentially undermine the IMO procedure. If the EU would then focus on regional measures, it would be backtracking on its own policy.”

Indeed the EU Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) Regulation is intended to be the first phase of a stepwise approach geared towards a global (read IMO) solution by allowing to determine the real contribution of shipping to global CO2 emissions. “The course of action that has been agreed is to start with an accurate picture of the shipping industry’s CO2 emissions in 2018 (i.e. two years after the MEP-backed deadline). If we now backtrack and skip the data collection phase altogether, how would it be possible to set realistic and fair targets?” asked Benoit Loicq. “A global CO2 monitoring and reporting instrument is already being developed in IMO and we believe it is essential to encourage alignment of the EU MRV Regulation with the IMO tool” he concluded.

”Despite being inconspicuous, by transporting 90% of the world’s goods, shipping is as essential to global trade as it is vital to our daily lives. Things have started to move in the right direction and it would be regrettable to reverse the progress achieved so far by jumping the gun’’ concluded Mr Verhoeven.

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