Greece Supports Emission Fund, Calling for Charterers to Pay for CO2

Greek proposal to EU on emissions trading
Greece's minister Ioannis Plakiotakis calls on operators and polluters to pay for GCG emissions (Hellenic Coastguard photo)

Published May 10, 2021 2:08 PM by The Maritime Executive

Greece’s minister of shipping became the latest official to put forth a series of proposals to the European Commission as it prepared to complete the next phase of EU rules on emissions, including incorporate shipping into the ETS. The minister took a position supporting the concepts of an independent fund for the shipping industry which works off the principle that polluters pay.

In a letter addressed to the European Commission, the Minister of Shipping and Island Policy, Ioannis Plakiotakis, calls for “a realistic alternative approach to the one planned by the EU,” that would integrate shipping into the European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). He supports previous proposals made by other shipping institutions and NGOs that based the levy on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and permits the ship operator, including charterers, to make decisions on their obligation by how they choose to operate their ships.

His letter supports the concept of the "polluter pays" principle, as it allows the companies that control the commercial operation of the ship to determine the energy efficiency of the ships, through the use of fuel, emissions controls, and operating characteristics and to pay the cost of greenhouse gas emissions. The levy paid would be directed to a fund for R&D of low- and zero-emission fuels and technologies, while taking steps to make the use of environmentally friendly fuels more attractive.

"After Brexit, the Greek-owned fleet accounts for 58 percent of the European fleet. With the responsibility of Greece as the first shipping power in Europe and the world,” Plakiotakis said he is representing the industry calling on the EC to consider alternative proposals than incorporating shipping into the European Emissions Trading Scheme designed for other industries. “Our proposal ensures the achievement of our common environmental goals in the EU, the funding of the required, large-scale, research for the gradual decoupling of shipping from fossil fuels, without jeopardizing the viability of the thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises the backbone of European shipping."

Greek ship operators control more than a quarter of the world’s crude oil tanker fleet and nearly one-sixth of the global ore and bulk carrier fleet. According to data released by the Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee in March 2021, Greece continues to be the largest operator and manager of ships, with over 4,000 vessels of all types with an aggregate of over 350 million dwt.

The minister writes that he recognizes the importance of the shipping industry contributing to the ambitious goals of the European Green Agreement and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. He also echoes previous objections over the “financial and administrative burdens for the thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises” that would be created in the EC proposals. Last month, the Union of Greek Shipowners and the Swedish Shipowners’ Association joined with the NGO Transport & Environment to call for a tailored approach for the international shipping industry.

Proponents of the proposal to include the shipping industry in the broader EU ETS proposals have said it would create an incentive for shipping companies to adapt their operations and apply technologies to meet the emissions regulations.

Considering that the EU’s approach may be included in globally accepted measures and influence the International Maritime Organization’s efforts, Plakiotakis calls on the European Commission to consider the relevant proposals in a positive light as it proceeds with its legislative initiatives. The EU is expected to announce its decisions in July 2021 in advance of the COP 26 conference on the climate scheduled for November 2021.