Commission said to be serious about shipping entering the ETS

May 9, 2007

The Commission is reported to have confirmed that it will be taking unilateral EU action to regulate emissions from shipping.

[mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]As Bulletin reported last month, a senior official suggested in March that the EU was considering unilateral action out of frustration with the slow pace of action in the global shipping forum, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

“We can say the EU is definitely going ahead alone because the IMO has not made as much progress as we would have hoped,” an unnamed official told the European news service Ends Europe Daily. Legislative proposals for amending the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) could be presented by the end of this year.

T&E issued a statement welcoming the Commission’s move, but warning that shipping entering the ETS would not be enough on its own. T&E policy officer João Vieira said: “The EU’s estimates for aviation, also set to be included in the system, suggest that emissions reductions through trading will be offset by less than one year’s growth of the industry. With shipping, the situation will be similar. We urge the EU to consider other more effective measures, such as differentiated port charges and fuel taxes.”

In a related development, the IMO’s secretary-general Efthimios Mitropoulos said last month that the IMO environment committee had been asked to carry out “a broad-based and holistic review” of proposals being developed to cut air pollution from ships. But the new study will not be ready for another year and therefore postpones any action until at least mid-2008.

Environmental damage from ships is currently regulated by Annex VI of the IMO’s Marpol Convention, but the current regulations are very weak and do not regulate CO2 emissions at all. The maximum sulphur content of fuels is set at 4.5% but the world average for shipping is already 2.7%.

In a separate development, the Commission has said only three of the EU’s 27 member states (B/D/S) have integrated into national laws a 2005 directive on pollution from ships, for which the deadline was 31 March.

The directive introduces criminal sanctions for “international, reckless or seriously negligent” pollution from ships within 12 miles of EU land.

This news story is taken from the May 2007 edition of T&E Bulletin.

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