EU and IMO on Maritime Emissions

EU and IMO differences for maritime emissions came to surface on a relevant conference hosted by the European Policy Centre and supported by the Mission of Norway to the European Union. Definite rules on emissions regulations might have not been discussed in depth, but what has been clearly understood from the different opinions that have been expressed is that EU and IMO are not in convergence regarding ship emissions although they both aim at the same target, that is to reduce emissions produced by the maritime industry.

The European Commission representative defended the Commission. The International Maritime Organisation representative defended the IMO as expected. Although they did volley soft shots at each other, total cordiality presided over the room at the Norwegian embassy.

According to Peter Hemmings, manager for aviation and shipping at Transport and Environment, the 15% decline in emission rates is misleading. That is because ships have slowed down or are docked due to the stagnant economy. In other words when sooner or later global economy recovers, ships most probably will increase their operational speeds depending on the contracts etc and emissions will rise once again.

According to the European Commission, ships arriving at or departing from EU ports account for 6.1% of the EU’s total emissions and for 3% of global shipping emissions. It is estimated that greenhouse gas emissions from ships will increase by 150% -200% by 2050.

Elina Bardram, Head of Unit for the International Carbon Market (Aviation and Maritime) in the Directorate for European and International Carbon Markets at DG Climate Action, European Commission said that the “Maritime sector emissions are expected to grow hugely, which is inconsistent with the international community’s targets at the UNFCCC”, “We have to develop standards that are meaningful and ambitious enough to do something that is sufficient… today,” Bardram said.

“As the UNFCCC negotiations continue, it’s also crucial to make progress with sectors outside of it at the same level of ambition, for example in the IMO [International Maritime Organisation],” Bardram said. She recalled that in its 2009 energy and climate package, the EU had pledged to bring the maritime sector into its own policy framework in the absence of a global agreement. “This work is on-going,” she said.

“We cannot work in isolation from economic developments or environmental ambitions in the EU as a whole,” Bardram said. “Global maritime emissions are set to significantly increase by 2050. That’s not in line with the EU roadmap for 2050, which foresees major emission reductions,” she said. Bardram argued that introducing a market-based emissions reduction mechanism (MBM) in the EU could result in up to €15 billion of annual net cost savings in the maritime sector by 2030, not to mention the environmental and social benefits.

“The IMO recognises the increasing importance and urgency of controlling greenhouse-gas emissions, and it is determined to be on the front line,” saidAndreas Chrysostomou, chairman of the Marine Environment Protection Committee at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). He disputed the perception that shipping had been slower than other industry sectors to take action to reduce emissions, explaining that it was only natural for progress to be slower in the IMO, which had 170 member countries, than in the EU, which had 27.

Chrysostomou said the IMO’s approach was to invest in a new generation of ships via the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), the Energy Efficiency Operational Index and the Energy Efficiency Management Plan. “We also want to tackle the existing fleet, which isn’t easy. Some ships are very old. You can levy taxes to incentivise making efficiency improvements, or you can introduce an emissions trading scheme,” he said.

Sveinung Oftedal, specialist director of the Norwegian Ministry of Environment, agreed. Geopolitical barriers are no excuse. He opened his remarks by saying that “no action is no option” and concluded by urging the audience to “be impatient, require action, because that is what’s needed.” Oftedal argued that the IMO was the best-placed body through which to reduce shipping emissions. “You need to find a mechanism that can deliver the goods, is feasible and is acceptable,” the Norwegian government representative said.

“The geopolitical situation is difficult. We’re suffering from it at the IMO. The adoption of the efficiency requirements for new builds is a remarkable achievement. However, the current achievements at the IMO aren’t enough,” Oftedal said. “We need more focus at the IMO on early actions. We can do more with existing vessels. We can reduce black carbon. We can do more under the existing regime regarding methane,” he argued. “The long-term action will be MBMs. But all these solutions contain difficult geopolitical elements depending on who they affect,” Oftedal warned.

“Shipping is now the biggest source of SOx pollution in Europe. It will be its biggest source of NOx pollution by 2020,” said Bill Hemmings, Policy Team Programme Manager for Aviation and Shipping at Transport & Environment, an NGO. “I actually think that there’s been very little improvement in ship efficiency in the last 30 years. They’ve got better at making them bigger though. Thank goodness that we now have the EEDI, because we’ve got 30 years of catching up to do,” said Hemmings.

“The problem is existing ships, so I disagree with Peter here. If the economy picks up, then more of the existing ships will set sail again,” the NGO representative said. “Other speakers are assuming that abatement measures will produce fuel consumption savings. But will they? You can design more efficient hulls, but a ship’s emissions increase the faster they sail. The EU limits the speed of trucks, so there’s an analysis to be made here for ships too,” Hemmings argued.

“The EEDI is an achievement to be applauded and should not be underestimated,” said Peter Hinchliffe, Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Shipping. “Within 25 years, most ships will have been designed more efficiently. The regulator will tighten standards. We don’t need to focus so much on the current fleet. We have a surplus, and a lot of ships are now being scrapped after 15 years,” Hinchliffe said. “We’re desperate to see the beginning of an MBM process that gives us time to analyse the requirements, so we urge the IMO to continue its work,” he said. “We can only operate under a global system of rules. That system must be effective at reducing emissions, it must be fair, and it must be equally applicable,” Hinchliffe said, warning that it must not become “a cash cow” that bleeds the industry dry.

The ICS represents about 80% of merchant tonnage around the world and is one of four bodies in the “Round Table” of shipping associations. Reading from a Round Table statement, Hinchliffe said the IMO “should be allowed to complete work on emissions without obstruction from regional international bodies with specific agendas.” He added that he was ‘intrigued’ to see how the Commission process would continue with proposals from multiple member states.

Hinchliffe disagreed with Hemmings and Oftedal that regulation of existing ships was paramount but did urge the IMO to establish market-based measures (MBM) sooner than later. He also pleaded Bardram to publicize the Commission’s talks with the IMO and release a proposal rather than merely nag the IMO.

“We are desperate to see the analytical process begin,” Hinchliffe said. “The technicality of applying an MBM to 75-80,000 ships is not a small problem. We need time to understand it.”

Current analysis, said an animated Hemmings, is missing the point. He doubted that anyone has taken into account the driving impetus of a business — to make money. Incentives to maximize efficiency would not work if they challenged incentives to maximize profits. Again, he emphasized that speed regulations were imperative.

“If I invest half a million to make my haul more efficient, am I going to pocket those savings and smile as they look to save the world, or is my finance director going to tell me to increase the speed to my new optimized speed (in order) to maximize profits?” Hemmings said. “It’s not at all clear in debates at IMO or the EU that this factor of speed and profit has been taken account of.”

Source: New Europe Online, European Policy Centre

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: