The EU confirmed that it will include shipping in its emissions trading system (ETS) if the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) does not deliver effective global measures to reduce shipping emissions by 2023.
This result was hailed as a partial victory by Transport and Environment (T&E) and the shipping industry.
At first, the Kyoto Protocol gave the responsibility to developed nations working through the IMO.
However, environmental groups are protesting about IMO’s slow progress. A new ship design standard was implemented in 2013 but it has proved not fit for purpose and reforming it is proceeding very slowly.
Recently, EU has grown impatient and in 2015 it commenced regional action by agreeing a regulation – the MRV – that will require all ships calling at EU ports to report from 2018 their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and efficiency ratings on routes to, from or within the EU while stepping back from direct measures to reduce emissions.
During IMO’s second dedicated meeting last month, in order to establish a 2018 interim GHG strategy, no decisions were taken but there was a strong call from many states and sections of industry to see reductions begin before 2023.
Additionally, establishing a long-term emissions target to ensure shipping helps limit temperature rises to 1.5°C remained contested.
This outcome made MEPs, ministers and the European Commission to agree to commit to shipping’s inclusion in the ETS if by 2023 the IMO has not taken action.
T&E’s shipping and aviation officer Faig Abbasov said: ‘At one level this is very frustrating, as it’s yet more evidence that the IMO is incapable of delivering the required level of ambition. But it’s clear the EU has got the message that Europe cannot indefinitely outsource its climate responsibility to the IMO. By committing to act in 2023 should the IMO fail, the EU is sending a strong signal to the IMO that it needs to deliver, and that “action” doesn’t mean talking.’