businessGreen – EU floats plan to monitor shipping emissions

(Written by Will Nichols)

1 July 2013 - The EU Commission has outlined plans to monitor greenhouse gas emissions from ships from 2018 as it looks to accelerate efforts to reduce the sector’s environmental impact.

The plan would force all ships over 5,000 gross tonnes using EU ports to report their CO2 emissions, regardless of where they are registered. Owners would also have to provide data on their ships’ fuel efficiency.

In a statement released late last week, the Commission said shipping currently accounts for around three per cent of global emissions, but this is expected to more than double by 2050 if action is not taken to curb the sector’s environmental impact.

It said the proposal would form a “building block” towards a global solution to limit shipping emissions through the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), where talks designed to deliver a new emissions management regime have made little progress in over a decade.

The Commission predicts the proposed EU-wide system would cut CO2 from journeys by up to two per cent compared to business as usual, while reducing net costs to owners by up to €1.2bn a year by 2030.

“The EU monitoring system will bring environmental and economic gains for the shipping sector by increasing transparency about emissions and creating an incentive for ship-owners to cut them,” EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said. “Robust monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions is an essential precondition for informed discussions in Europe and worldwide on reduction targets for the sector.”

However, campaign groups said the proposals fail to go farther than monitoring methods already in use and also fails to tackle harmful sulphur (SOx) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

Antoine Kedzierski of Transport & Environment said: “The Commission has completely missed the important opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and include SOx and NOx in this proposal. We therefore call on the European Parliament to strengthen the proposal to ensure that all harmful pollutants can be more effectively controlled.”

In related news, EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik has welcomed new rules that ensure EU-flagged ships no longer have to be recycled within the OECD countries, but can be dismantled at facilities that meet particular environmental requirements.

In practice the ban was regularly circumvented and reflagged ships were commonly taken apart in Asia in poorly managed facilities, which led to significant environmental pollution.

“I am convinced [the new Ship Recycling Regulation] will reduce the illegal practices currently blighting the industry, which will become more responsible and environmentally friendly as a result,” Potočnik said in a statement. “It will also lead to investment in improving facilities to meet the new demand for better standards”

The EU said it is looking into further means to incentivise the use of higher standard facilities, which could include a fund to support the upgrading of some sites. Earlier this year, a European Parliament committee approved plans for a levy an ships docking at EU ports to cover the costs of improving facilities.