The European Parliament’s environment committee has voted to include carbon-dioxide emissions from the maritime sector in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) which currently covers around 45 per cent of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Under the ETS, the EU charges for the right to emit carbon dioxide. Up until now, the scope of the ETS system is limited to power and heat generation, energy-intensive industry sectors and commercial aviation. However, this year the Commission is set to revise the block’s emission reduction target for 2030 with possible implications for the Emissions Trading System as well.
Due to the considerable consumption of fossil fuels, global shipping activity emits significant amounts of GHG emissions and contributes to climate change. International maritime transport is estimated to be around 2-3 per cent of total global GHG emissions. Based on the European Environment Agency’s greenhouse gas emissions data ships have added up to over 138 million tonnes of carbon-dioxide emissions in 2018, representing 3.7 per cent of total EU emissions. However, maritime transport is not expressly addressed by an EU emission reduction objective or specific mitigation measures.
Consequently, the European Commission has put forward a proposal to revise the EU system for monitoring, reporting and verifying carbon emissions from maritime transport and bring it in line with new obligations under International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to monitor emissions from 2019 and report in 2020.
MEPs of the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee welcomed the proposal of the EU’s executive body but took it one step further as they voted to include ships of 5,000 gross tonnages and above in the EU Emissions Trading System.
In addition, MEPs agreed that market-based emissions reduction policies are not enough, so they proposed to introduce binding requirements for shipping companies to reduce their annual average CO2 emissions per transport work, for all their ships, by at least 40 per cent by 2030.
“Monitoring and reporting CO2 emissions are important, but statistics alone do not save a single gram of greenhouse gas,” said Rapporteur Jutta Paulus. “That’s why we are going further than the Commission proposal and demanding tougher measures to reduce emissions from maritime shipping.”
Faïg Abbasov, shipping manager at Transport & Environment (T&E) called the vote a “wake-up call” to the European Commission.
“It should follow through on bringing the sector into the EU carbon market and stop dragging its heels on operational CO2 standards, which are essential to making hydrogen ships cost-effective,” said Mr Abbasov. The Parliament’s plenary will vote on the committee’s report in September.
In the future, seaborne trade volumes are likely to grow, which will lead to a significant increase of associated GHG emissions if mitigation measures are not put in place swiftly. According to estimates, unless we take swift actions the EU CO2 emissions from maritime transport could rise by 86 per cent above the 1990 levels, which would risk undermining the goals of the Paris Agreement.