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Parliament ETS report undermines global work on CO2 emissions of shipping

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Patrick Verhoeven

Patrick Verhoeven

The Environment Committee (ENVI) of the European Parliament adopted today its report on the revision of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). MEPs agreed on a compromise text for shipping, which puts pressure on the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to have a system comparable to ETS operating for global shipping as from 2021. If that is not the case, then shipping will be included in the European ETS as from 2023. Part of the revenues generated from ETS will be channeled through a Maritime Climate Fund to improve energy efficiency and invest in innovative technologies for ports and short sea shipping.

“The report ignores and undermines the roadmap that was agreed at IMO end of October”, said ECSA Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven, “We find this very disappointing, but it does not change our resolve to make the IMO roadmap a success. We agree that the shipping sector must further reduce its CO2 emissions with a comparable level of ambition as the rest of the world economy to contribute its fair and proportionate share in meeting the Paris’ climate target. But this can only happen effectively in a global context. Threatening with regional measures under unrealistic deadlines is a very counterproductive move.”

The IMO roadmap has a two-staged approach, with an initial strategy to be decided in 2018, and a final plan to be adopted in 2023, taking into account real emission data that will start to be collected as of 2019. The IMO plan is entirely consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015. It is a logical follow-up to technical and operational measures taken earlier such as the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) and Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) adopted in 2011 to ensure that ships will be more CO2 efficient in the future.

The ENVI report needs to be confirmed in a plenary vote in the beginning of next year. Negotiations will then start with Member States and the Commission. “We hope the unhelpful position of the ENVI Committee can be overturned in this process”, said Patrick Verhoeven, “The EU should engage in the global dialogue, not undermine it.”

Including shipping in the EU ETS scheme, either directly or indirectly through a European Climate Fund, would not only seriously endanger international progress. It would inevitably also lead to carbon leakage and have negative effects on trade and jobs. The proposed Maritime Climate Fund furthermore raises a host of legal and competition issues. Establishing such a fund will be a contentious and protracted process, taking several years. In the time frame needed to reach political agreement on such a fund, the IMO will be perfectly able to set its own strategy. Paradoxically however, the threat of a European fund – or any unilateral EU measure – will prevent this.

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