EU Seeks Monitoring of Ship Emissions to Spur Global Curbs

European Union regulators proposed monitoring greenhouse gases from ships starting in 2018 in a plan to encourage global curbs on maritime pollution tied to climate change.

The draft law would oblige the owners of ships larger than 5,000 gross tons using EU ports to report annual discharges of carbon dioxide, the main gas blamed for global warming. The European measure is meant to be a “building block” for elusive worldwide emission curbs.

The proposal by the European Commission, the 27-nation EU’s regulatory arm, takes place amid a decade-long deadlock in the International Maritime Organization over agreeing a global framework to reduce ship emissions. In addition to supporting any United Nations system, the EU rules would encourage the maritime industry to cut CO2 discharges by increasing transparency, the commission said.

“We recognize that shipping must contribute efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, preferably through global measures which are the most environmentally effective and make economic sense,” EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said in a statement today in Brussels. The draft legislation needs the support of EU governments and the European Parliament in a process that can take at least a year.

Global maritime transport accounts for 3 percent of international CO2 discharges, and emissions from ships are expected to more than double by 2050, according to the commission. The proposed European system would cut pollution from the journeys covered by as much as 2 percent compared with a “business as usual” scenario and reduce net costs to ship owners by as much as 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion) a year in 2030, the commission said.

Clear Course

The IMO has already introduced mandatory efficiency measures and established a group to evaluate proposals on market-based mechanisms. The EU law would be adapted to any global standards, the commission said.

“We are charting a clear course toward reducing maritime greenhouse-gas emissions,” EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in the statement. “Robust monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions is an essential precondition for informed discussions in Europe and worldwide on reduction targets for the sector.”

The reporting obligation would apply to ships on voyages to, from and between EU ports, regardless of where the vessels are registered. Owners would also be required to provide other information such as data to determine the ships’ energy efficiency, according to the commission.

The environmental lobbies Transport & Environment and Seas at Risk called on European policy makers to craft a more robust and effective monitoring system and propose a market-based measure to cut emissions in the industry. The EU should also tackle emissions of sulfur and nitrogen oxide from ships, they said.

“The Commission has completely missed the important opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and include SOx and NOx in this proposal,” Antoine Kedzierski of Transport & Environment said in an e-mailed statement. “We therefore call on the European Parliament to strengthen the proposal to ensure that all harmful pollutants can be more effectively controlled.”

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