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  • Ships’ energy performance to be measured for first time

    All shipping companies calling at EU ports will, for the first time, have to measure and publicly report ships’ energy performance, including carbon emissions, under a law approved by the European Parliament’s environment committee and EU environment ministers. But the regulation, which still requires the support of the Parliament plenary, only monitors fuel consumption instead of directly reducing it, and only covers CO2 and not air pollutants like SO2 or NOx.

    Ship operators will be required to publicly report three metrics to measure the energy performance of ships: the theoretical energy performance of the ship known as the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI); its real-world fuel consumption; and its energy efficiency. The more cargo a ship can carry using the same amount of fuel, the more efficient and cheaper it is to run..
    T&E says that while the law is weak, the publication of ships’ real energy efficiency will provide shipping users with transparent data to identify the most efficient ships and practices, and hopefully trigger a cycle of increased competition among operators.
    The environment committee vote and the Council of Ministers’ decision comes as global air pollution from shipping in ports is projected to quadruple by 2050 from current levels, according to the OECD’s International Transport Forum. It says ‘strong policy responses’ from governments and regulators will be needed to combat growth in methane, carbon monoxide, CO2 and nitrogen oxides emissions.
    Sotiris Raptis, clean shipping officer at T&E, said: ‘The proposed law does not cut CO2 and fuel use directly but can help make it happen indirectly. Transparency in ships’ energy performance contributes to better-informed decisions on which types of ships, companies and routes to use. This move is a stepping stone to an eventual measure to require actual emissions reductions, which is what is urgently needed.’
    Currently ships are responsible for more than 3% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The European Commission estimates that CO2 emissions from ships sailing in European waters amounted to 180 million tonnes in 2010. If these emissions were reported as a country, maritime transport would be Europe’s eighth largest emitter. 
    According to the third greenhouse gas study conducted last year by the UN’s shipping body, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), if other sectors of the economy reduce emissions to keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius, while shipping emissions continue on a business-as-usual trajectory, then by 2050 shipping emissions could comprise  a whopping 10% of allowable global GHG emissions.
    Meanwhile, the IMO has made progress on tackling shipping impacts on the acceleration of Arctic ice melting. After four years of debate its environment committee will recommend adopting the consensus definition of black carbon arrived at by an eminent group of scientists and institutions. Lack of agreement at sub-committee level had been holding up technical work to calibrate and test black carbon measurement methods – essential to evaluate control measures and monitoring and engine certification technology.
    The IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) is set to agree in May on a definition. The IMO would then focus on controlling and calibrating measuring instruments with a view to deciding on control measures to reduce black carbon. The deposition of black carbon from ships and other sources on ice and snow in the Arctic accelerates ice melting by reducing the albedo effect – the ability to reflect sunlight back into space.