Case for shipping in carbon market now ‘indisputable’

The European Parliament has said that shipping industry polluters must pay for their emissions in the EU carbon market. The vote came just after an independent study for the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) said greenhouse gas emissions from ships could increase by up to 50% by 2050 if action is not taken now.

MEPs, for the first time, called on EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to quickly propose both ship CO2 standards - which the parliament suggested - and the inclusion of the sector in the emissions trading system (ETS). The parliament backed by a large majority a -40% greenhouse gas efficiency target for shipping companies, to be reached gradually by 2030, as part of the revision of the EU’s monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) system for ship emissions.

Faïg Abbasov, shipping director at T&E, said: ‘The Parliament is tired of inaction in the face of steadily rising shipping emissions. This is a clear signal to President von der Leyen that the EU’s more ambitious 2030 climate target must apply to maritime emissions too and that ships must pay for all of their pollution in the EU carbon market.’

T&E said the need for Europe to act was indisputable following the publication of the IMO’s fourth IMO greenhouse gas analysis, which was carried out by a consortium of independent research organisations, including University College London, International Council on Clean Transportation and the Dutch consultancy CE Delft. It covers primarily climate pollution, but also non-greenhouse gas problems. 

The study finds that shipping’s climate impact has grown by 10% in just six years, and that carbon pollution from ships could increase by up to 50% by 2050 if left unchecked. The sector’s methane emissions have increased by 150% in the last six years because of the increased deployment of ships fuelled by liquefied natural gas (LNG). The study also reveals the weakness of the IMO’s 40% carbon intensity reduction target – three-quarters of the targeted improvements had been achieved before the goal was even adopted in 2018.

T&E said the EU must now activate its plans to include maritime emissions in its carbon market and introduce CO2 standards for ships while in operation. Faïg Abbasov added: ‘Shipping’s carbon pollution has grown at an alarming rate and could rise by half by 2050 if real action is not taken. The case for the EU to push ahead with its plan for emissions trading for shipping is now indisputable. It must also quickly adopt the CO2 standards that MEPs have called for. These standards will drive the uptake of green hydrogen and ammonia, as well as energy efficiency technologies that are needed for European shipping to decarbonise.’