Emmanuel Macron calls for bunker taxes

Emmanuel Macron is doing more than just about any other major world politician to change the shipping industry. Having personally backed calls to mandate slow steaming, the French president’s government is now pushing for Europe to create bunker taxes.

The French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, discussed with reporters yesterday his government’s plans to lobby the European Union to implement taxes for airline and shipping fuel.

“It’s incomprehensible that carbon emissions targets were set for cars and not for airplanes and ships. We propose that work is done on a European tax on airplane and ship fuel,” Le Maire said.

Carbon taxes for shipping have been in the headlines a great deal of late. One of the world’s largest shippers recently warned shipping it ought to prepare for a carbon levy.

Mining giant BHP is preparing for greater shipping environmental clampdowns once the global sulphur cap is out the way next year.

In a recent interview with The Australian newspaper, BHP’s maritime vice president Rashpal Bhatti said, “There may well be a carbon levy associated with bunkers from the IMO. If that is the case it will be a significant driver to bring down emissions from any fuel that’s used. And our competitors will obviously have to think about that too.”

The French president is in Toulouse today, the southern French city where Airbus is based. Macron will hold a summit with Germany’s Angela Merkel and leading European business conglomerates to discuss innovation, with Maersk boss Soren Skou among those invited.

While hosting the G7 summit in Biarritz at the end of August, Macron stated publicly that getting ships to slow down was his among his top environmental goals.

“Very solemnly, for the first time, we will engage with shipping companies to reduce the speed [of merchant ships],” Macron said. Slow steaming regulations are to be discussed at the International Maritime Organization in the next few weeks.

Other European politicians are sizing up shipping’s carbon footprint. Norway’s prime minister used the opening speech at Nor-Shipping in June this year to urge shipping to pursue a more urgent, swift decarbonisation, warning regulators are going to get far tougher on the industry soon.

Erna Solberg, prime minister for the last six years, told delegates: “Remember one thing, if you look at your business models for the future, regulations will be tougher especially for climate change.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. This guy is NUTS.
    Slow steaming means higher shipping costs!!!!
    If a tax on bunkers is only applied in Europe it would put European
    shipowners at a serious disadvantage.

    Any tax would again also increase the price of shipping and goods.

    Any increase of prices would hurt the TAXPAYERS, also asked to pay substantial amounts for the climat idiots already.

    It is Obvious that todays politicians have shit for brains!

  2. Macron,not smart.who.s paying for this? Correct the consumer.

    Regarding slow speed travel,not going well for Reefer vessels Mr Macron.?

    Basicly its a Bin job.Bon voyage

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