WSC: FuelEU can contribute to decarbonization of int’l shipping

As part of the EU Green Deal, the FuelEU Maritime regulation intended to promote demand for lower greenhouse gas fuels can play an important role in shipping’s journey towards decarbonisation – both in the European Union and internationally, according to the World Shipping Council (WSC).

WSC
Illustration; Image by Navingo

In a position paper published on 26 October, the WSC, representing 90% of international liner shipping, welcomes the FuelEU proposal as an opportunity to drive progress towards EU targets and contribute to the decarbonisation of international shipping.

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However, the proposal’s actual impact will hinge on optimizing the geographical scope of FuelEU and making sure fuel availability keeps pace with fuel use requirements, the council said.

WSC added it strongly supports the EC’s proposed ‘well-to-wake’ lifecycle approach for greenhouse gas intensity, as a comprehensive, globally accepted scientific approach. It is, however, crucial that the fuel use obligations outlined in the proposal are matched by measures to ensure the supply of suitable fuels and infrastructure through the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR). The legal requirement to use certain fuels should be contingent on their availability.

“When working towards a shared objective to minimize total greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the climate impact of shipping, a full lifecycle perspective is the only logical approach. That is also why FuelEU alignment with RED and AFIR is so important in ensuring the provision of genuinely clean fuels,” John Butler, President & CEO of World Shipping Council, commented.

“Even if all the vessels in the world were able to run on alternative fuels – and the sector is working hard to make that happen – it will make no difference for our climate if that fuel is not available from clean sources.”

Climate progress for the EU – and internationally

The importance of AFIR and RED to the success of FuelEU also has a bearing on its geographic scope. These measures to ensure the supply of clean fuels apply within the EU, and the same geographic scope should apply for the fuel use obligation, WSC explained.

As highlighted in the EU Impact Assessment, an extra-territorial scope for FuelEU presents real risks of overlapping regional and global policy. With that comes a substantial risk of the EU failing to influence international shipping as intended.

A consistent intra-EU scope for FuelEU would avoid the pitfalls of overlapping policies and generate the desired climate impact for the Union whilst supporting international progress through the IMO with the EU in a leadership position.

Faster progress through synergies

The FuelEU Maritime proposal’s definition of the responsible entity recognises well that ship owners and ship operators share responsibility for the implementation of shipping decarbonisation measures.

Truly effective actions require synergies between vessel technology, design and operation, and the proposed “company” definition gives all parties an incentive to work for GHG intensity reduction.

It is also consistent with the international nature of fleet operation, ownership, and control, supporting EU priorities for IMO agreements and measures to reduce GHGs in shipping.

WSC also sees the value of FuelEU’s proposed pooling of compliance amongst ships, an innovative and practical way to encourage companies to invest in ever more efficient vessels due to the fleet-wide effect.

“The EU has a unique opportunity to strengthen, motivate and complement global policy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in international shipping. We are committed to working with EU Institutions to achieve the Green Deal’s goals through good policy that will enable us to move as fast as possible to zero-emission shipping,” John Butler concluded.