European Parliament gets tougher on shipping to cut its emissions

European Parliament
CC-BY-4.0: © European Union 2020 – Source: EP

The European Parliament’s environment committee voted on Tuesday, July 7, to include CO2 emissions from the maritime sector in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).

Maritime transport is the only sector with no specific EU commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, despite the fact that global shipping activity is estimated to emit around 2-3% of total global GHG emissions.

However, as the European Union pushes forward with the European Green Deal and becoming carbon neutral, the union believes it is time it employs stricter policies on the industry.

In the legislative report approved on Tuesday, the committee asked to see more ambition and voted to include ships of 5000 gross tonnage and above in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).

In addition, MEPs say that market-based emissions reduction policies are not enough, so they also introduced binding requirements for shipping companies to reduce their annual average CO2 emissions per transport work, for all their ships, by at least 40% by 2030.

Ships must also be emissions-free at berth by 2030, as a means of eliminating pollution to the cities in European ports.

“Today, we are sending a strong signal in line with the European Green Deal and the climate emergency: Monitoring and reporting CO2 emissions is important, but statistics alone do not save a single gram of greenhouse gas,” Rapporteur Jutta Paulus (Greens/EFA) said.

“That’s why we are going further than the Commission proposal and demanding tougher measures to reduce emissions from maritime shipping”.

When adopted by the plenary, which should happen during 14 – 17 September session in Strasbourg, the Parliament will start negotiations with member states on the final shape of the legislation.

Green group Transport & Environment (T&E) said the European Commission should follow this cue to propose including ships in the EU carbon market and investing the money raised in greener maritime technology.

“MEPs have delivered a wake-up call to the European Commission, which has focused too much on biofuels and hardly at all on making shipping pay for its pollution. It should follow through on bringing the sector into the EU carbon market and stop dragging its heels on operational CO2 standards, which are essential to making hydrogen ships cost-effective,” Faïg Abbasov, shipping manager at T&E, said.

As explained, the MEPs also asked for the current monitoring system (MRV) for emissions from ships to be more transparent and to include all greenhouse gases, including methane emissions from LNG-powered ships. 

Furthermore, the committee called for an “Ocean Fund” for the period from 2023 to 2030, financed by revenues from auctioning allowances under the ETS, to make ships more energy-efficient and to support investment in innovative technologies and infrastructure, such as alternative fuel and green ports, to decarbonise the maritime transport sector.

20% of the revenues under the fund shall be used to contribute to protecting, restoring and efficiently managing marine ecosystems impacted by global warming.