Push to cut paperwork must not weaken green laws

The Clean Shipping Coalition has warned that a drive to cut paperwork could undermine the effectiveness of environmental regulations. The warning from the coalition of environmental NGOs, including T&E, comes as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) processes the results from a six-month consultation on how to help ship operators and national administrations reduce their administrative costs.

The IMO has just closed its consultation aimed at seeing how compliance with IMO laws affects the administrative burdens of ship operators. Its consultation document said the IMO was ‘committed to reducing’ the impact of administrative requirements that ‘may have become unnecessary, disproportionate or even obsolete’.
 
Industry-wide attacks on environmental regulations that apply to shipping have fuelled fears that the push to reduce paperwork and administration is a convenient excuse to weaken or avoid such regulations. The body that represents ship owners has complained openly about the cost of complying with environmental requirements.
 
However, environmental NGOs say the need for stricter emissions limits for the shipping sector is unquestionable. Ships’ exhaust fumes cause 50,000 premature deaths every year in Europe and cost society €58 billion.
 
The Clean Shipping Coalition (CSC) issued a statement saying: ‘We support, in principle, the effort to reduce the “unnecessary paperwork” that could arise from applying IMO rules. But we believe this effort should not be used as a way to undermine current laws or enforcement procedures. No cuts should be made unless it can be demonstrated that they will enhance current enforcement, or at a minimum, that enforcement won’t be hampered.’
 
T&E shipping officer Antoine Kedzierski said: ‘Most of the burden of enforcing current maritime regulations is borne by public authorities. This must change, and there is no reason why the “polluter pays” principle shouldn’t also apply to the shipping sector. Society cannot be expected to shoulder first the environmental burden caused by these emissions and then the administrative burden for controlling them.’
 
In its response to the IMO consultation, the CSC also identified ways in which enforcement procedures could be further improved while considerably reducing administrative costs for public authorities. The CSC proposed that all ships should report their emissions levels. In practice, this could be achieved cost-effectively by installing continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS). Such a system would reduce the burden on both ship owners and public authorities, and could apply both to existing limits for sulphur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), and to future limits on carbon dioxide. Different CEMS technologies are already on the market with more in development, but so far they are not widely used.