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EU Publishes Industry-First Report On GHG Emissions

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

24 December 2010


The European Commission has announced the publication of a report from its Joint Research Centre that for the first time provides a comprehensive overview of methodologies for estimating air emissions from shipping, describes technological solutions and analyses policy options for reducing carbon emissions and air pollution in the sector.

Outlining the reasoning for the release of the report, the Commission said:

“Maritime transport causes about 4% of global man-made CO2 emissions which makes its carbon footprint approximately as high as Germany's. There is no regulation of international maritime transport emissions yet, but this is currently under discussion in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).”

“In respect of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, shipping is the most environmentally-friendly mode of transport. However, if no action is taken, it is estimated that emissions from ships will increase by 150-200% by 2050. At present, around 50,000 merchant ships transport 90% of global goods and make maritime transport indispensable for the world economy.”

The JRC Reference Report contributes to raising awareness of the environmental impacts, including on health, of world-wide shipping. It analyses the methodological issues raised within the scientific community about assessing the impacts of the maritime sector on the environment, and identifies shortcomings in reliable and comprehensive sources of information. A detailed assessment of the cost efficiency and abatement potential of each technological option described in the report is also provided.

The report confirms that unless measures are taken, air pollution over the main shipping routes will increase due to an estimated 10-20% rise in sulphur dioxide emissions in the next two years. Marine fuel oil has a very high sulphur content which ranges from a global average of 27,000 ppm (parts per million) to 10,000 ppm in Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs). However, with the new agreement in IMO ships in the Baltic and North Sea SECAS will have to use fuel with only 0.1% of Sulphur content by 2015, as is already the case in the EU ports due to EU legislation.

“There is significant potential for abating emissions from the shipping sector. Technical solutions to reduce fuel consumption, air pollutants and greenhouse gases are readily available and range from better ship design, propulsion and machinery to optimised operation,” the Commission said.

“However, to achieve significant improvements in the reduction of carbon emissions and air pollution, technological (fuel- and engine-related) solutions should be supplemented with other measures. Market-based options addressing both regional and global measures must also be investigated. [Against this background] the report analyses how the introduction of market-based policies, such as a GHG Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) for the shipping sector at international level, could be used.”

Introducing the report’s launch, Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire-Geoghegan-Quinn added:

"This JRC report underlines why pollution from shipping, like that from many other sources, needs to be reduced both to help tackle climate change and to prevent severe damage to human health. It also discusses options for how a combination of technological innovation and market-based policies could deliver the reductions needed. This study is also a perfect example of how the scientific work done by the Commission's Joint Research Centre can help drive political progress towards the EU's Innovation Union and Europe 2020 goals."

Within the Euro zone it has been agreed that by 2020, greenhouse gas emissions should be cut by at least 20% compared to 1990 levels, or by 30% if the conditions are right. The scope of Europe’s commitment is set out in the EU's climate and energy legislation. According to this legislation, all sectors of the economy should contribute to achieving these emission reductions, including international maritime shipping and aviation. It has been decided that in the event that no international agreement that includes international maritime emissions in its reduction targets has been approved by the Community by 2011, the Commission should include international maritime emissions in the Community reduction commitment, with the aim of the proposed Act entering into force by 2013.

TAGS: tax | marine | pollution tax | law | carbon tax | regulation

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