ICS fires back at OECD’s carbon tax proposals

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has hit back at suggestions from the International Transport Forum that a carbon charge should be applied to emissions from shipping.

The ITF, a research arm of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), said shipping should reduce carbon emissions by half over the next 35 years and entirely by 2080, under the leadership of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

Among the measures ITF suggested was a carbon tax for shipping set at about $25 per tonne of CO2, the receipts of which could feed into the Green Climate Fund.

“This would be almost three times higher than the carbon price paid by shore-based industries in developed nations,” the ICS said in a statement today. “About 70% of the world merchant fleet is registered in UNFCCC ‘non-Annex I’ developing countries, and maritime trade is of vital benefit to rich and emerging economies alike.”

“The UNFCCC recognises that developed and developing nations should accept differing commitments, and shipping is no different, especially in view of its vital role in the movement of about 90% of global trade,” the ICS observed.

ICS secretary general, Peter Hinchliffe, commented: “While shipping may currently have CO2 emissions comparable to a major OECD economy, it is inappropriate for the ITF to propose that the industry should be treated like an OECD economy.”

The ICS reiterated its favour for a fuel levy system to curb emissions, a position it has held since before the current IMO discussions on market-based measures (MBM) were paused in 2013.

“The position of ICS remains that if IMO member states should decide to adopt a shipping MBM, the industry’s clear preference is for a fuel levy, rather than an emissions trading scheme or other complex alternatives that would distort global shipping markets,” the ICS stated today.

“However, if a levy was developed by IMO, ICS believes that any money collected should be proportionate to international shipping’s share of the world’s total CO2 emissions (2.2% in 2012 compared to 2.8% in 2007), not the $26bn a year suggested by the ITF.”

Shipping has already reduced its total CO2 emissions by more than 10% between 2007 and 2012, and decreased its CO2 emissions per tonne-mile by around 20% over the past 10 years. “It is therefore on course for carbon-neutral growth,” said the ICS.

Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.
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