EurActiv - Letters to the Editor

Sir,

Regarding ‘UN shipping body agrees to CO2-cutting proposals‘:

Action by the IMO on shipping emissions has been (and I’m being charitable now) slow. However, it is quite possible that, post-Copenhagen, shipping will be pulled into ETS in much the same way as aviation was.

In November 2007, [European Commission Vice-President Margot] Wallström said both shipping and aviation were “lagging behind” and were not helping EU plans to extend the EU ETS. Not long afterwards, despite arm-waving by the industry, aviation entered the ETS.

At a meeting of EU environment ministers on 3 March 2008, it was agreed (unanimously) that EU action is needed to tackle shipping emissions as the IMO has failed to do enough. There was general support for a Dutch plan to ask the Commission to produce proposals by the end of 2008 on how to tackle the problem of NOX (nitrogen oxides) and sulphur dioxide emissions from vessels. In fairness, in July 2009 the IMO made a little bit of progress in this respect.

The Commission notes that shipping accounts for 5% of global GHG emissions and this is set to rise (the IMO put the figure at 3%). PWR monitoring of Council, Parliament and the Commission suggests a rare consensus with respect to what needs to be done concerning shipping GHG emissions: entry into the EU ETS.

Adding some oil to the fire, in June 2009, a month before the IMO met, the ship classifier Det Norske Veritas (DNV) said the world’s shipping fleet could cut GHG emissions by 15% in 2-3 years, and the industry could be carbon neutral in 10-15 years aided by new technology. DNV also said the global shipping fleet had the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030.

The DNV report provides some useful ammunition to the EU and supports the case to get shipping into the EU ETS. Doubtless we will hear synchronised whining by IMO members and shipping companies (costs will probably be a big feature of the whining).

However, given the unusual unanimity of the three legs on this one, PWR would suggest that the IMO and its various appendages are wasting their time. They could have done something more than a decade ago, instead another body will do what they should have done – raising the final issue: what exactly is the IMO for, apart from holding meetings in nice places and keeping hotel chains in business?

Mike Parr

PWR

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