Greek and Swedish shipowners weigh in with their own vision for Europe’s emission trading plans

An alliance of Greek and Swedish shipowners, along with NGO Transport & Environment (T&E), has called on the European Commission to put the polluter pays principle at the core of its emissions trading system (ETS) proposal.

The EU Commission is revising the EU ETS directive in line with the European Green Deal and it plans for the first time to include international maritime emissions. The commission proposal is expected in June.

In a letter to the commission, signed by the heads of the Swedish Shipowners’ Association and the Union of Greek Shipowners, the coalition demands that the maritime ETS be both ambitious and tailor-made to the industry. This comes as EU regulators outline the details and the scope of the scheme, which will define how shipping emissions are regulated in the coming years, with regulators in other areas such as China and the US looking to the EU for guidance before possibly also adding shipping into their own ETSs.

Faig Abbasov, shipping director at T&E, said: “This is crunch time for the shipping industry. With the EU deciding on the details of its maritime carbon pricing, it is an opportunity to put shipping on a path to decarbonisation. A well-crafted proposal can achieve this without undermining the smooth functioning of the sector. We call on other shipping companies to join this industry-NGO coalition to push for an ambitious and effective proposal.”

The ETS should not be limited to voyages within the EU, the letter says, but also cover voyages between the EU and third countries. An intra-EU only ETS would reduce the environmental effectiveness of the measure and place the burden unfairly on short-sea shipping companies.

The coalition has asked the commission to rule out free emission allowances to avoid punishing smaller companies that have less administrative capacity to take advantage of the system. This, they say, would ensure both environmental effectiveness and a level-playing field. They also back the European Parliament’s proposal of establishing an Ocean Fund under the ETS to fund research and development and the deployment of green fuels.

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.
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