German Shipowners Question E.U. Green Deal

Credit: Diamantino Rosa
Credit: Diamantino Rosa

Published Dec 11, 2019 5:58 PM by The Maritime Executive

The European Commission presented The European Green Deal, a roadmap for making the E.U.'s economy sustainable, on Wednesday. The idea is to make the transition just and inclusive for all, but German shipowners have raised concerns about plans to extend European emissions trading system to the maritime sector.

The CEO of the German Shipowners’ association (Verband Deutscher Reeder, VDR), Ralf Nagel, says: “Germany’s shipping sector has understood what is at stake now and in future and wants to make its contribution to climate protection – and that is why we endorse the Green Deal. 

“However, 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. Via the IMO in London, our aim in particular is to make a practical contribution to foster genuine climate protection. This is why we need a highly skilled diplomatic European Commission and E.U. member states in London with strong negotiating skills that, together with other important shipping nations of this world, will contribute towards driving the ambitious objectives of the IMO forward on a global scale – in the interests of global climate protection and fair competition in our international industry.”

Nagel says the E.U. should invest in research and development of new fuels. “This will call for a technological revolution; after all, we lack CO2-neutral fuels and drive technologies. Europe should become a worldwide cluster of excellence, with the E.U. Commission working together with its business community, not against it.”

The European Green Deal covers all sectors of the economy, notably transport, energy, agriculture, buildings, and industries such as steel, cement, ICT, textiles and chemicals.

To set into legislation the political ambition of being the world's first climate neutral continent by 2050, the Commission will present within 100 days the first European Climate Law. The Commission will also present the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the new Industrial Strategy and Circular Economy Action Plan, the Farm to Fork Strategy for sustainable food and proposals for pollution-free Europe. Work will immediately start for upping Europe's 2030 emissions targets, setting a realistic path to the 2050 goal.

Meeting the objectives of the European Green Deal will require significant investment. Achieving the current 2030 climate and energy targets is estimated to require €260 billion of additional annual investment, representing about 1.5 percent of 2018 GDP. The Commission will present a Sustainable Europe Investment Plan in early 2020 to help meet investment needs. At least 25 percent of the E.U.'s long-term budget is expected to be dedicated to climate action, and the European Investment Bank, Europe's climate bank, will provide further support. For the private sector to contribute to financing the green transition, the Commission will present a Green Financing Strategy in 2020. A Just Transition Mechanism will support those regions that rely heavily on very carbon intensive activities.