Emission trading schemes draw criticism

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

16 February 2017

Following a vote yesterday in the European Parliament which recommended that international shipping (including non-EU flag ships) should be incorporated into the EU Emissions Trading System from 2023, the ICS has called upon member states of the EU which are also member states of the IMO to reject the proposals. ICS says it is working closely with the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) in order to persuade EU Member States and the European Commission to reject these proposals, in view of their support for a global solution at IMO. “This vote for a unilateral, regional measure simply risks polarising debate among IMO Member States which have already agreed to develop a strategy for reducing shipping’s CO2 emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change”. said ICS Director of Policy & External Relations, Simon Bennett.
“The vote completely ignores the real progress that has already been made by IMO – which under the Kyoto Protocol, to which EU Member States are signatory, has a mandate to address CO2 emissions from international shipping.”
With the EEDI rules adopted in 2011, shipping is already the only global industry that has an emission reduction programme in place. Although considered controversial and flawed in concept by some shipping experts, the EEDI is mandatory and will ensure that all ships built in 8 years’ time will be at least 30% more CO2 efficient than most of the fleet operating today. “As we saw when the EU unsuccessfully tried to impose the ETS on international aviation, non-EU Governments are not going to take kindly to being told that ships flying their flag, when visiting EU ports, may have to pay money into EU schemes designed to help subsidise the closure of European coal mines.” Bennett observed. In a separate development related to CO2 emission charges, New Zealand ship owners say they pay too much for greenhouse gas emissions when their rivals do not pay anything. The New Zealand Shipping Federation, estimates the costs to be $250,000 in carbon charges per ship per year. The fee is the result of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme, under which credits bought by fuel companies are passed on to customers, such as shipping operators. Some of the local shipping companies face competition from international operators on coastal trades. Foreign vessels can carry local cargo on the New Zealand leg of the journey, but do not pay emissions costs, unlike local companies. Federation executive director Annabel Young said putting emissions charges on New Zealand ships was peculiar to this country, and was unwise because shipping was an environmentally sound means of transport. "It is a direct imposition on our costs and, at some point, it is going to feed through into the cost of moving freight and people by ships. It will have a disincentive effect."