Europe’s maritime sector ‘welcomes’ Fit for 55 as a crowbar
The EU Commission Fit for 55 proposals are finally targeting the maritime shipping sector left undisturbed for decades regarding CO2 emissions. Shipping will be included in the Emissions Trading System (ETS), where companies will have to buy CO2-quotas from 2023.
In Europe, shipping companies are not averse to using the EU ETS system, although it’s not entirely what they hoped for. It could be useful as a crowbar to force the rest of the shipping world to further progress than the IMO (International Maritime Organization) so far. Outside the EU, the rest of the maritime world is not so enthusiastic.
Credits for every ton of CO2
Under the ETS Maritime proposals, shipping companies will have to buy credits for every ton of CO2 they are emitting during voyages between ports within Europe. And while their generators keep on turning at the dock to provide the ship with energy, if not connected to an onshore power supply (OPS).
For voyages originating from or with a destiny within the EU, 50% of the total CO2 emissions will be considered. The EU ETS will focus on large ships — above 5 000 gross tonnage — loading or unloading cargo or passengers at ports in the European Economic Area (EEA), regardless of the flag they fly.
Meager IMO targets
It will be implemented gradually from 2023 on for part of the emissions, increasing to 100% by 2026. The Commission’s targets are to ‘limit greenhouse gas intensity of the energy used on-board ships by -2% (compared to 2020) by 2025, -6% by 2030, -13% by 2035 up to -75% by 2050. That’s quite a difference with the meager targets of -40% (compared to 2008) in 2030 and -50% by 2050 set by the IMO.
Danish Shipping’s Executive Director of Security, Environment, and Maritime Research, Maria Skipper Schwenn, called the Fit for 55 in a first reaction ‘looking very reasonably’. “We support shipping being a part of the ETS, but we would have preferred that the Commission start with travels between two EU-ports,” she added in a comment.
“That would have made room for negotiations on global solutions at the IMO. “If the EU plays its cards right, the tariffs in the proposal could be used to put pressure on the global CO2 prices at the IMO, and consequently contribute to creating unified, international solutions.”
Serving as an incubator
The European shipowners’ association, ECSA, said it preferred an international solution for shipping but welcomes the ‘increased climate ambition of the EU’. “We recognize that shipping should contribute its fair share to address the climate crisis, at EU level as well,” said ECSA President Claes Berglund.
Even the world’s largest shipping company based in Denmark, A.P. Moller–Maersk, supports most proposals. “The EU basket of measures should serve as an incubator to show the International Maritime Organization that significant GHG reductions are possible and do not lead to major increases in consumer prices,” CEO Søren Skou writes at LinkedIn.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), representing 80% of worldwide ship owners and ship operators via national shipowners associations, is less happy with the EU’s move. It says, “the EU overreach threatens to sink shipping’s decarbonization efforts.”
“Other than as an ideological revenue-raising exercise, which will greatly upset the EU’s trading partners, it’s difficult to see what extending the EU ETS to shipping will achieve towards reducing CO2, particularly as the proposal only covers about 7,5% of shipping’s global emissions. This could seriously put back climate negotiations for the remaining 92,5% of shipping emissions,” says Guy Platten, secretary-general of ICS.
According to the IMO, maritime transport emits around 940 million tonnes of CO2 annually and is responsible for about 2,5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. According to the EU Commission, in Europe, the maritime sector is responsible for 4% of GHG emissions, compared to 3,8% for aviation and 20,4% for road traffic.
In addition, the EU will gradually introduce a fuel standard to push forward the use of alternative fuels by lower levies. But that’s something NGOs like Transport & Environment (T&E) don’t like as an instrument.
“The FuelEU Maritime proposal could lead to more than half (55%) of the energy used by ships calling at EU ports being LNG and biofuels by 2035,” T&E says in a press release. “This is despite LNG offering minimal emissions reductions and releasing methane – a global warming gas up to 36 times more potent than CO2.” It would be better to focus on hydrogen and ammonia as an alternative, says T&E.