EU action on shipping emissions needed, say MEPs and NGO, after IMO agrees to yet more talks

The International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) decision this week to delay by at least a further seven years any agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from shipping constitutes an abject failure by national governments and the shipping industry, leading members of the European Parliament and an environmental NGO have said. The IMO first established a work plan on GHGs in 2003, but this week it decided to create a fresh process for yet more talks – betraying the Paris agreement’s call for urgent action to limit global warming at 1.5/2°C.

Three senior members of the European Parliament’s environment committee have now called on the EU to take the lead in cutting emissions from ships in Europe and to maintain the transparent collection and report of CO2 emissions data (the EU MRV). Shipping, one of the fastest growing sources of transport emissions, is projected to account for 17% of global emissions by 2050 [1] and efficiency improvements are being blocked by keeping efficiency and emissions data secret.

Socialist (S&D) MEP Jytte Guteland, shadow rapporteur for the revision of the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS), said: “The shipping sector must play its role in Europe’s transition to a low-carbon society. But time is of the essence and, in the absence of IMO action, the EU must include ships’ emissions in its 2030 climate target. By setting up a climate fund for shipping Europe can help industry cut CO2 in a cost-effective way.”

A proposal to include emissions from shipping in the EU’s 2030 emissions reduction target through a Maritime Climate Fund under the EU ETS has gained cross-party support among MEPs. Shipowners would purchase ETS allowances from 2021 onwards or pay an equivalent amount into a new maritime climate fund for the shipping sector, which would buy allowances on participants’ behalf, thereby minimising the administrative burden, and rebate a portion for measures to finance innovation projects in the sector and in ports.

On barriers to improving ship efficiency, the IMO has confirmed that its data collection system will remain secret – even to its individual members – as ship registries compete against each other. Measurements of ship efficiency will use proxy data and not real numbers. Despite all this, the IMO now wants the EU to dismantle its far more transparent and accurate system and align with the global lowest common denominator. It comes 19 years after the IMO was first tasked with addressing the sector’s climate impact.

Liberal (ALDE) MEP José Inácio Faria, ex-rapporteur for the EU ship CO2 data collection (MRV) regulation, said: “The IMO’s data collection system fails to meet transparency standards provided for in EU law and applied to other transport modes. It also falls short of accurately measuring the real energy performance of ships. Calls to dump transparency from the EU system need to be firmly rebutted. The EU must provide citizens, ports and shippers with quality data on individual ship energy performance if market forces are to play a role in decarbonising the sector.”

Green MEP Bas Eickhout, shadow rapporteur for the revision of the ETS, said: “International shipping is the only transport sector not contributing to climate goals in Europe. Since the IMO will not be considering, let alone proposing any emissions reduction measures for many years to come, our duty is to make sure that Europe takes action.”

Sustainable group Transport & Environment said that despite shipping having escaped an explicit reference in the Paris Agreement, all countries are now legally bound to pursue efforts to limit a temperature increase well below 2°C, and that means countries regulating shipping emissions. The longer the shipping industry delays climate measures, the steeper the emission cuts will have to be to keep within the world’s rapidly shrinking carbon budget.

Note to editors:

[1] https://www.transportenvironment.org/press/shipping-emissions-17-global-co2-making-it-elephant-climate-negotiations-room


Contact the press team

Nico Muzi
Communications Director
+32 (0)484 27 87 91 
nico.muzi@transportenvironment.org

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