Shipping, like aviation, slow and reluctant to agree any measures to limit global CO2 emissions

The international climate agreement in Paris still puts additional pressure on shipping to change, despite its exclusion from the text (with aviation). The Paris agreement should be signed by countries early in 2016 – it covers actions to cut carbon emissions, from 2020 onwards. Global shipping is a huge emitter of carbon, and is growing. Lloyds List says new ships being ordered now will have to meet design requirements and all ship operators need to be aware of the ship energy efficiency management plan. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is tasked with – eventually finding some mechanism to limit carbon emissions from the sector. It has been ineffective so far. Mention of work by the IMO was dropped from draft versions of the Paris agreement. In due course, some form of emissions trading system might be introduced. The EU aready has its pending requirements for all ships to report CO2 emissions on voyages to, from or between European ports — the so-called MRV rules, meaning monitoring, reporting and verification of annual CO2 emissions. The first year of results will have been collated by 2020. European NGO, T&E wants shipping to be part of the European ETS. Lobby groups have been appalled at the slow pace of the IMO in coming up with strong measures to curb CO2.



Pressure still on for shipping to curb CO2

By Craig Eason and Gary Howard  (Lloyds List)

14 December 2015


THE international climate agreement in Paris still puts additional pressure on the maritime sector to change, despite not having a direct reference to shipping.

The Paris Agreement, as it is being called, is a text that commits member states of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to report their intentions to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and to then work towards stronger targets.

It is open for signatures from countries early next year and will cover actions and targets from 2020 onwards; there are existing agreements covering the period up until then.

While there is no immediate change to any regulation for shipping, there will be. In the meantime, owners ordering new ships will still need to ensure they are aware of existing design requirements for newbuildings, and all ship operators need to be aware of the ship energy efficiency management plan and the ship board certification that ships should carry.

The more immediate impact will be with the regulators, both regional and international, as they look to new regulations for four years’ time, and the pressure is on within diplomatic circles with lobbying to influence any outcome set to intensify.

According to climate experts, the simple fact that the Paris Agreement alludes to limiting the increase in average temperatures to “well below” 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C degrees rather than 2°C is significant.


Stronger regional pressure

Environmental lobby groups believe the Paris Agreement will make Europe amend its climate change regulations and there will be increased pressure as a result of the 1.5°C reference for the mechanisms it currently has, such as its emissions trading scheme, to be more demanding on industry.

This could well mean including transport, namely aviation and shipping.

The European Union already has its pending requirements for all ships to report CO2 emissions on voyages to, from or between European ports — the so-called MRV rules, meaning monitoring, reporting and verification of annual CO2 emissions.

The first year of results will have been collated by 2020 and could be used as the basis for setting targets for shipping in the newly revised EU climate rules.

Additionally, one of the lobby groups pushing for strong rules for shipping, Transport and Environment, sees the potential for shipping to be part of the European emissions trading system as a chance to create an alternative compensation fund.

Shipowners could pay it in the compensation fund instead of being in the ETS, argues T&E policy adviser Sotiris Raptis. He likens this to proposals for a bunker levy, saying that it is what shipowner lobby groups such as the International Chamber of Shipping have said they prefer.

However, this is still regional, so there is the work at the International Maritime Organization. The text that was initially proposed for the Paris agreement by European environment ministers, and has now been removed, alluded to the role of the IMO in creating the measures for shipping to curb its CO2. However, it was vague and did not suggest that the IMO link shipping with a specific reduction target or emission cap.

European Community Shipowners’ Association secretary-general Patrick Verhoeven told Lloyd’s List that the omitted text was “perfect” for Ecsa.

“It really put the confidence within the IMO, and if it had been approved then that would have been an important signal for Europe; that was the key issue we were looking for.”

Whereas Ecsa was hoping the text would stunt European regulatory ambition, the International Chamber of Shipping is glad the proposed text was omitted, as ICS secretary general Peter Hinchliffe told Lloyd’s List: “We were uncomfortable and think it would have inhibited the IMO debate if the UNFCCC had actually told IMO what kind of mechanism to use.

“That would deny IMO the ability to look at the mechanism in the round and see what the impact would be not only on the industry, but on world trade.”

Emissions experts have also said there was a clear change in the message that came from businesses at the Paris meeting. A consortium of businesses, including some big charterers, were vocal about the need for strong measures to be adopted. Anne Marie Warris, director of environmental consultancy Ecoreflect, said one of the notable voices was among the Danish Shipowners’ Association, where a number of members have been increasingly vocal about the need for policy change.

She also pointed out that the Paris Agreement, while pushing for emissions targets that will help achieve a much less than two degree temperature change, has text that does encourage other UN bodies, which would include the IMO, to do the same.

IMO secretary-general Koji Sekimizu said: “The absence of any specific mention of shipping in the final text will in no way diminish the strong commitment of IMO as the regulator of the shipping industry to continue work to address [greenhouse gas] emissions from ships engaged in international trade.”

Strong, bold and international

Lobby groups have repeatedly said they are appalled at the slow pace of the IMO in coming up with strong measures to curb CO2.

While groups such as Transport and Environment lambast the IMO member states, it does recognise, as does nearly everyone, that the IMO is the only place where strong global rules can be created.

Both the ICS and Ecsa are hoping that political will from COP21 will bring new momentum to discussions at the IMO next year, and hasten the introduction of international MRV regulation ahead of the EU’s own policy.

“IMO MRV should be in place and a mandatory requirement by January 1, 2018,” said Mr Hinchliffe, adding that such a quick turnaround would prove to Europe that the IMO can act equally quickly, and that it can create more successful global legislation, giving a better perspective on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

One of the problems has been the disagreement between developed and developing countries both at the UNFCCC and the IMO. While the Kyoto Protocol had different commitments, the developing nations were reluctant to agree on CO2 measures at the IMO as it might be seen as a weakening of their position at the UNFCCC.

Ms Warris from Ecoreflect believes that as there is much more accord following the  Paris Agreement, this could lead to more co-operation at the IMO, especially when the Marine Environment Protection Committee meets in the spring.

MEPC has on its agenda the development of a global system for ships to monitor and report annual CO2 emissions. Member states had been stalling the development of any other measures until after the Paris meeting. With two meetings of the MEPC in 2016 there could be some headway in developing agreement next year, allowing for it to be established and running before 2020.

Once up and running and the first year of data collected then comes the task of creating further, probably market based, measures to curb shipping’s CO2.

Whether this remains simply the measurement of CO2, or includes elements of the cargo carried such as the transport work done, by ships has yet to be decided.

The shipowners want see the global system for monitoring up and running. Not only would this put pressure on the EU to drop its regional MRV and the risk of the regional system being linked to the EU ETS, but it would also a give more accurate data.

The ICS is cautious on what this data could be used for. Although it was open to a passage deferring to the IMO to regulate shipping emissions, the ICS went to Paris to push for shipowners to be left to do their own work on reducing CO2 from ships and for any future regulation to be self-regulation, citing statistical proof for its argument.

Lobby groups dismiss this. They argue the time period used by the ICS is misleading as it compares pre-crisis 2007 figures, when emissions are accepted as being exceptionally high, and disagree with the statistics the ICS used to make its case.




See earlier:


Ship emissions reporting ‘must be stepping stone to CO2 target’

Shipping users will for the first time be granted access to transparent data that identifies the most efficient ships and practices, under a law approved by the European Parliament in full today. The public disclosure of fuel efficiency data will enhance competition for the best ships and routes, which in turn will trigger market forces that will result in fuel savings. Sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) said the measure is astepping stone to CO2 targets that will start delivering much-needed cuts to shipping’s ever-growing emissions.

The Monitoring Reporting and Verification (MRV) regulation will require ship operators to publicly report information on the environmental performance of ships. [1] Cargo owners and ship operators have been crying out for efficiency data – some already adhere to a similar yet voluntary ‘Clean Shipping Index’ – as the more cargo a ship can carry using the same amount of fuel, the more efficient, cleaner and cheaper the service. [2]

But fuel efficiency improvements will be offset by the increase in transport demand. In its latest greenhouse gas (GHG) study the UN’s shipping body, the IMO, projects a 50 to 250% rise in shipping emissions by 2050. [3]

Sotiris Raptis, clean shipping officer at T&E, said: “This law is expected to produce a virtuous circle of increased transparency, increased competition and greater fuel efficiency. But this is where our cheering stops. Given that the sector’s rapid growth is set to outstrip efficiency gains, only CO2 targets under the EU’s 2030 plan and Energy Union can deliver actual emissions cuts.”

EU governments will have an opportunity to support a global CO2 target for the sector when the IMO’s environment committee (MEPC) debates a submission from the Marshall Islands in two weeks time.

“The Marshall Islands, the existence of which is threatened by rising sea levels, has called for a global reduction target on maritime carbon emissions. When the holders of the world’s third largest shipping registry can see the existential threat posed by rising shipping emissions, it’s time for European nations to step up to the plate and support definitive action at the IMO,” Sotiris Raptis concluded.

Currently ships are responsible for over 3% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. If these emissions were reported as a country, maritime transport would be Europe’s eighth largest emitter. According to the latest IMO study on GHG emissions from ships, under a business-as-usual scenario, shipping could represent 10% of global GHG emissions by 2050.




Shipping emissions 17% of global CO2, making it the elephant in the climate negotiations room

Shipping could be responsible for 17% of global CO2 emissions in 2050 if left unregulated, according to a new scientific study. Any agreement at the Paris Climate Summit must therefore send a clear signal to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) that CO2 reduction targets and measures for shipping are needed to help keep warming below dangerous levels, according to NGOs Seas At Risk, Transport & Environment (T&E) and the Marine Conservation Society.

Emissions from shipping, along with aviation, are the elephant in the COP21 negotiations room, the groups said in a dossier presented to delegates arriving for the IMO’s 2015 Assembly in London today.

Almost 40% of all CO2 emissions in 2050 will be caused by shipping and aviation if left unregulated, the study published by the European Parliament found. However the IMO, the UN body tasked with tackling the climate impacts of shipping, has so far failed to grasp the nettle on shipping’s growing contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions [1], while the proposal for emissions cuts from industry – as represented by the International Chamber of Shipping – would fall short of what shipping needs to do to help meet the 2°C warming target limit by some 121%.

The European Parliament’s study took into account the IMO’s own research which found that shipping GHG emissions are up 70% since 1990 and are projected to grow by up to a further 250% by 2050 [2]. Shipping currently accounts for nearly 3% of global CO2 emissions – higher than those of Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, France or the United Kingdom. All these countries have now pledged domestic emissions cuts ahead of next month’s talks but the IMO’s Secretary General thinks differently having recently claimed publicly that “…measures aimed at reducing shipping’s overall contribution of CO2 emissions… must be avoided” [3].

Without inclusion of ship GHG emissions in the Paris agreement and significant additional action to reduce emissions, shipping will consume a growing proportion of the 2 degree carbon budget and ultimately make it all but impossible to meet climate stabilisation targets.

Seas At Risk and T&E are members of the Clean Shipping Coalition [4], which has Observer status at the IMO. They are calling urgently on the IMO Assembly delegates to set a major course correction. Countries participating in the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) need to agree that the IMO should set targets and agree emissions re­duction measures that are consistent with shipping making a fair and pro­portionate contribution to keeping warming below 1.5/2 degrees.

Sotiris Raptis, shipping policy officer at T&E, said: “Now we know that, left unregulated, ships and airplanes could be responsible for almost 40% of global emissions in 2050 if other sectors decarbonise. Any deal in Paris must lead to an emissions reduction target and measures for shipping and aviation, otherwise the efforts of all other sectors of the global economy to meet the 2 degree target could be derailed.

John Maggs, policy advisor at Seas At Risk and President of the Clean Shipping Coalition said: “Paris should be the moment when the world sets itself on a course that avoids dangerous climate change. To achieve this all will have to play their part; there is no room for shirking responsibility or special pleading, least of all from an industry like shipping that has so much untapped potential to reduce emissions and move to a low carbon business model.”


Notes to editors:


[2] International Maritime Organisation, Reduction of GHG emissions from ships – Third IMO GHG Study 2014, (July 2014)


[4] The Clean Shipping Coalition (CSC) is the only global international environmental organisation that focuses exclusively on shipping issues. It has eight member organisations and is an observer at the IMO.