Thursday, November 27, 2014

Now Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Shipping Comes Under the Eye of the EU

Discharges to be Monitored, Reported and Verified in the Future by Vessel Operators
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – Having stepped up pressure on vessel operators of late with the introduction of Emission Control Areas to control sulphur discharges and with the international maritime shipping sector currently the only means of transportation not included in the EU's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, an agreement has now been reached by European Co-legislators, to take the first step in reducing the emissions from the industry with new EU-wide rules for the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of CO2 emissions from ships.

The proposal states that from 1 January 2018, ship-owners would be obliged to monitor emissions for each ship on a ‘per voyage’ and an annual basis. There are also provisions on monitoring and reporting, verification and accreditation, and compliance and publication of information as well as international cooperation. The new rules would cover CO2 emissions from ships above 5,000 gross tonnes, excluding warships, naval auxiliaries, fish catching or processing ships, wooden ships of a primitive build, ships not propelled by mechanical means and government ships used for non-commercial purposes.

The new regulation will aim to improve information about CO2 emissions relating to the consumption of fuels, transport work and energy efficiency of ships, which make it possible to analyse emission trends and assess ships' performances. Gian Luca Galletti, Italian Minister for the Environment, said:

"The agreement reached between the Parliament and the Council has a great political value as well as technical: with the new regulation establishing a mechanism for monitoring, reporting and verification of maritime emissions, Europe immediately gives a follow-up with a concrete decision to the commitments of the Climate-Energy Framework 2030. This agreement enables us to play an influential role in the negotiations within the International Maritime Organisation, with a view to finding ambitious solutions that combine environment protection with development."

Not all nations appear to be happy about this proposal with four nations apparently voting against the agreement; Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Poland.

The European Commission would have to publish an annual report on emissions from maritime transport to inform the public and to allow for an assessment of the emissions and the energy efficiency of maritime transport per size, type of ships, activity, etc. It would also have to assess biennially the maritime sector's overall impact on the global climate, including through non CO2 related emissions or effects.

The Regulation is meant to be a stepping stone towards a global MRV instrument, which is currently being discussed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Apart from data on CO2 emissions and distance sailed, the negotiators agreed that the Regulation will also require ships to report cargo-related information. In raising his concerns of the monitoring regime, European Community Shipowners Association (ECSA) Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven, said:

“Whilst the inclusion of cargo-related information allows the measurement of energy efficiency of vessels, there are concerns regarding data reliability and confidentiality as well as reporting responsibilities and obligations. This explains why IMO approaches the issue with great care.

“As ECSA we would have preferred the inclusion of cargo-related data to have simply been postponed until an agreement was reached at IMO. We do however acknowledge that the negotiators took some of our concerns into account and have strengthened provisions on international alignment. We will carefully assess these changes as soon as the full text of the agreement becomes available. We believe it is essential that the industry is closely involved in any further steps, for instance on defining the metrics of cargo data.

“Most importantly, we call upon the European Commission to actively engage in a confidence-building exercise with non-European Member States at the IMO, to ensure that the common objective of establishing an international MRV instrument will be achieved.”

The text is still to be examined by the European Parliament's Environment Committee on 3 December 2014, and if approval by the Committee, the Council of the European Union is expected to reach a political agreement at the Environment Council meeting on 17 December, followed, after legal-linguistic revision, by the formal adoption of its common position, which should be transmitted to the European Parliament. It would be then for the Parliament to vote on the agreed text at one of its plenary meetings. The procedure could be completed in spring 2015.

Photo: Neither the Cutty Sark, nor her tug in this early photograph, would come under the new regulations.