Washington debates copying EU’s MRV regulation

The United States is looking at copying the European Union’s path to carbon pricing on shipping.

The House Natural Resources Committee, a Congressional committee of the United States House of Representatives, has introduced the Ocean Climate Based Solutions Act (OBSCA) this week.

The bill is designed to address a host of different topics, and begin to discuss ideas for future action in the event of a new administration, including shipping and greenhouse gas emissions.

Nations are taking shippings’ emissions into their own hands

It includes a proposal for the US to copy the EU’s monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon dioxide emissions from maritime transport (MRV) regulation.

Title XIV of the America bill has the exact same language as the EU’s version. MRV schemes are designed to be the paving stone to carbon pricing.

The committee in the House of Representatives was very receptive to the bill. Whether it gets enacted will likely rely on what happens on November 3 when Americans cast their vote in the presidential election.

The challenger for the presidency in next month’s election, Joe Biden, is determined to put the US back on the international green map.

Under the so-called Biden Plan, the environmental agenda laid out by the Democrat nominee, there is a call to lead the world “to lock in enforceable international agreements to reduce emissions in global shipping and aviation”.

Commenting on the US MRV news, Dan Hubbell of Ocean Conservancy’s shipping emissions campaign, told Splash: “As a major source of greenhouse gas emissions—on par with a G7 country—shipping often falls in the blind spot of ocean-based climate change solutions. We’re encouraged to see the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act introduce a monitoring, reporting and verification system that lays the foundation for real climate action on shipping by the United States, which could be pivotal to the development of green ports and zero carbon shipping.”

Madeline Rose, climate campaign director at Pacific Environment, said: “In the face of the climate emergency, nations are taking shippings’ emissions into their own hands. Introduction this week of an EU-style monitoring, reporting and verification system to accurately count ships’ emissions in the United States is the first step towards a comprehensive emissions reduction regime for ships in US ports and waters.”

The emissions discussions in Washington are taking place at the same time as member states of the International Maritime Organisation meet this week to discuss short-term measures to slash the sector’s carbon footprint.

The deadlock at the IMO meeting risks seeing up to 30 nations walk away from the discussions today, making the regionalisation of shipping environmental regulation ever more likely.

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. Satellites or drones measuring real time emissions from ships funnels would be more effective.

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