MEPs adopt new rules for greener maritime fuels

Members of the European Parliament (MEP) have adopted new rules on cleaner maritime fuels, which are part of of the Fit for 55 in 2030 package, the EU’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, and to decarbonise transport.

Illustration. Source: WasteFuel

As disclosed, the rules were adopted on 11 July. During the negotiations with the EU Council, they ensured that ships will have to gradually reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by cutting the amount of GHG in the energy they use (below 2020 level) by 2% as of 2025 to 80% as of 2050.

Specifically, this would apply to ships above a gross tonnage of 5000, which are in principle responsible for 90% of CO2 emissions. Furthermore, this includes also all the energy used on board in or between EU ports, as well as 50% of energy used on voyages where the departure or arrival port is outside of the EU or in EU outermost regions.

Additionally, in order to significantly reduce air pollution in ports, containerships and passenger ships will be obliged to use on-shore power supply for all electricity needs while moored at the quayside in major EU ports as of 2030.

Thanks to MEPs, the new rules also set a 2% renewable fuels usage target as of 2034 if the EU Commission reports that in 2031 renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBO) amount to less than 1% of the fuel mix.

“The new rules set out by far the world’s most ambitious path to decarbonising maritime transport. It targets 90 percent of maritime CO2 emissions while shielding the smallest ship-owners and ports from costs and administrative burden. They make Europe the frontrunner in creating a demand for sustainable fuels and fostering innovation,” Parliament’s rapporteur on sustainable maritime fuels Jörgen Warborn said.

The new rules on sustainable maritime fuels were backed by 555 votes to 48 and 25 abstentions. They will apply as of 1 January 2025.

According to the latest review from Clarksons Research, 44% of newbuild tonnage ordered in the first half of this year was alternative fueled. With 62 orders secured in the first six months of 2023, methanol continues to close in on LNG as a mainstream fuel, with the latter locking in the fuel choice in 86 orders.

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Green fuels are seen as one of the pillars of the decarbonisation strategies for companies. To combat climate change and reach net-zero goals, the European Parliament formally approved the new EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) law in April this year. The move comes in support of the industry’s calls for financial backing that would support the uptake of clean fuels and foster innovation. At least 20 million ETS allowances, which correspond to around EUR 2 billion under the current ETS carbon price, will be allocated to maritime projects under the Innovation Fund.

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The European Commission has also recently presented five new legislative proposals to modernise EU rules on maritime safety and prevent water pollution from ships. 

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