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Europe Prepares to Impose Carbon-Reduction Measures on Shipping

The European Union is preparing to include maritime transport in its emissions-trading system or impose charges on carbon discharges from ships should international talks fail to cut pollution from the industry.

The International Maritime Organization, created under the United Nations system, has been unable to agree on measures to curb emissions from ships for more than a decade. The EU is now pursuing a “parallel track” to design its own tools to limit the industry’s pollution, said Yvon Slingenberg, head of the emissions-trading unit at the European Commission.

“Whereas a global agreement in the context of IMO is still the preferable option, and we continue working for that, we have started really seriously preparing for tackling the sector,” she said in an interview at a climate seminar this week in Budapest. “It could be for bringing them into the emissions trading system; it could be also other options such as charges or levies.”

Global maritime transport accounts for almost 3 percent of carbon-dioxide discharges, and emissions from ships are expected to more than double by 2050, according to the commission, the Brussels-based EU regulatory arm.

The EU emissions trading system, known as the ETS, is the world’s biggest cap-and-trade program. Started in 2005, it imposes pollution limits on more than 11,000 utilities and manufacturers, allowing those that emit less than their quota to sell surplus permits. One permit gives the right to discharge one metric ton of CO2.

The program will expand to include aviation next year and chemical and aluminum companies in 2013.

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