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  • Slow progress of talks tests EU’s deadline

    Pressure on the EU to take unilateral action on tackling greenhouse gases from international shipping has grown after talks at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) last month failed to make much progress. The stalemate increases pressure on the EU to act on its commitment to take action in Europe if no international deal is reached by the end of this year.

    [mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]The IMO’s meeting in London was to discuss how to put into practice some of the recommendations of an IMO expert group that looked at ways of using market-based measures to reduce shipping’s contribution to global warming. But a group of developing nations – led by India, China, Brazil and South Africa – believes no such global measures are necessary, and that if they are introduced, the developed nations must do more than developing nations and act first. This view contradict’s the IMO’s principle that responsibility should be shared equally.

    The lack of progress effectively means that an IMO market-based measure to reduce emissions from the maritime sector cannot now be agreed before the end of the year. This is significant as the EU’s directive governing the European Emissions Trading Scheme makes it clear the EU will bring in a European measure to cut shipping emissions if no international agreement is reached by the end of 2011.

    After the talks, the group of environmental NGOs attending the meeting, which included T&E, said insufficient progress had been made, and they repeated their call for an EU instrument for cutting EU emissions that could be extended globally if and when the IMO acts.

    In its white paper on planning for transport in 2050, the Commission envisages setting a target for reducing shipping emissions by 40% by 2050 but few details have been provided on how to achieve this. Both the transport commissioner Siim Kallas and the climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard have made it clear that the EU is working on a European proposal.

    The IMO’s Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships will be decided in July. If approved, it is expected to reduce ship emissions by 10-20% by 2030, but will have no impact on existing ships. The developing nations that led opposition to market-based measures at last month’s meeting are likely to oppose the EEDI just as vigorously.

    • The Helcom Commission, which groups the nine countries surrounding the Baltic Sea, last month failed to agree on plans to strengthen NOx controls for shipping. The Baltic is already a sulphur emission control area, and Helcom is working to get the sea declared a NOx emission control area as well. If successful, the NOx control area would require all new ships sailing in the Baltic from 2016 to reduce NOx emissions by 80%. No agreement is now expected before the summer.