European Shipowners: Green Deal Should Align with IMO

file photo courtesy of Diamantino Rosa
file photo courtesy of Diamantino Rosa

Published Feb 19, 2020 4:42 PM by The Maritime Executive

The European Community Shipowners'  Associations (ECSA) has launched its position paper in response to the E.U. Green Deal proposed by the new European Commission.

The document states support for the E.U.’s ambition to take the lead in fighting climate change but highlights the key role of the IMO. The European shipping industry aims to be an active contributor to IMO discussions on both short-term and long-term measures and seeks the E.U.’s support for a coordinated and holistic approach at the IMO.

The IMO Strategy includes a target to cut total GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 50 percent by 2050 (compared to 2008) regardless of maritime trade growth, whilst pursuing efforts towards phasing them out as soon as possible in this century. The IMO Strategy also includes, as mid-term candidate measure, the development of a global market-based measure to help deliver the agreed targets. The strategy will be further revised in 2023 to ensure a pathway to full decarbonization for international shipping as quickly as possible.

In contrast, the Green Deal, released late last year, sets the ambition of reducing emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030 and to become carbon-neutral by 2050.

ECSA notes that the IMO strategy has been agreed by virtually every IMO Member State including all E.U. Member States which are parties to the IMO MARPOL Convention. The position paper states that the Green Deal “needs to take stock of the obligations already undertaken at the IMO and become a front runner in areas pertinent to the shipping industry which are complementary to the IMO’s Initial Strategy in a way that does not distort international competition.” To this end, “while promoting a high level of ambition, the E.U. should work towards ensuring consensus among the IMO Member States by inter alia taking into consideration the concerns of Small Islands Developing States and Least Developed Countries.”

This could imply agreement a stance taken by German shipowners who raised concerns about E.U. plans to extend the European emissions trading system to the maritime sector. The CEO of the German Shipowners’ association, Ralf Nagel, said at the time: “The E.U. emissions trading scheme is a system with the primary goal to increase the price of carbon emissions. It is not a mechanism which actually reduces emissions as such. The effectiveness of the trading scheme is therefore highly questionable, especially because it is only a regional instrument. Shipping itself today is concentrating on real carbon emission reduction, not on a theoretical one.”

A group of 15 European organizations representing logistics, ports, rail and shipyard industries has recently announced their support for the Green Deal but noted that a key factor will be the E.U.’s ability to play a leadership role in convincing non-E.U. countries to engage in the same direction. The organizations therefore welcomed the Commission’s efforts to convince other governments to set bold climate targets, thus guaranteeing a level playing field.

ECSA has defined eight things the E.U. can do together with the shipping industry:

•     Take the lead in the international regulatory process
•     Incentivize the modal shift in transport from roads and air to ferries and short sea shipping - need for an ambitious strategy
•     Research and Development - make the E.U. a frontrunner in low- and zero-carbon technologies
•     Port call optimization
•     Shore power and infrastructure for alternative fuels
•     Establish a green financing program for the electrification of ferries
•     Use the offshore potential for renewable energy
•     Digitalization

The position paper is available here.