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European radicalism or environmental care?


Covering transport by sea by the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) for greenhouse gases, establishing the Ocean Fund, reducing CO2 emissions from ships by 40% by 2030 as well as reducing greenhouse gases emissions during the call at the port to the maximum extent – these are just some of the changes in the transport by sea proposed by the European Parliament at the end of 2020. According to the maritime industry, it is a wind of almost revolutionary changes, which may concern i.a. due to the costs that water transport will have to incur as a result of introducing such changes. They may amount to billions of euro. However, the originators assure that the regulations will not enter into force with immediate effect.

Members of the European Parliament believe that maritime transport has a large impact on both climate change and marine biodiversity, deteriorates air quality and public health due to CO2 emissions as well as emissions of methane, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, particulate matter, and soot. In 2015, water transport was responsible for 13% of the greenhouse gases emissions in transport in the European Union. Moreover, according to MEPs, international maritime transport is the only type of transport which has not been included in the EU emission reduction commitment.

Interestingly enough, MPEs suggest that the activities taken in this regard by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) are too sluggish as the organization has not made sufficient progress in fulfilling “an ambitious global agreement on greenhouse gases emissions”. That is why the enforcement of the regulations related thereto should be harmonized with regard to both the IMO and the EC. It is recalled that on 13 April 2018, the IMO adopted the Strategy on reduction of greenhouse gases emissions from ships. Its aim is to reduce CO2 emissions from maritime transport by 2050 by “at least” 50% (compared to the level of 2008), however, a reduction by 100% by 2050 is strongly suggested.

“The commitment of the IMO to reduce greenhouse gases emission by 50-100% by 2050 is a huge progress. For the very first time, the maritime industry has accepted its own commitment to contribute to the fight against climate change, making it similar to the Paris Agreement,” said Dr Tristan Smith of the UCL Energy Institute.

Apparently, the declarations of the maritime industry are not enough for the Members of the European Parliament. They claimed that the market policy of emissions reduction was not sufficient and demanded that shipowners reduce their average annual CO2 emissions per transport unit for all their ships by at least 40% by 2030. Therefore, in their mind, measures implementing and enforcing all environmental solutions on both global and EU level are urgently needed so that measures aiming at i.a. reducing emissions in maritime transport and achieving the EU objective related to the climate neutrality can be taken immediately without prejudice to any measures taken in this regard by other industries.

They also underlined European ports, which are strategic centers for energy transition due to their location and business activity. They were deemed to be the main points where energy carriers (imported, stored, or distributed) are put into circulation as well as centers which are increasingly involved in the development of renewable sources of energy, developing new strategies for managing energy and circular economy. Therefore, Member States should be encouraged to stimulate the development of zero-emission ports and invest in alternative fuel bunkering solutions.

However, it is difficult to imagine that such radical solutions proposed by the EP could be implemented without a prior in-depth analysis of their impact on such crucial matters as the competitiveness of the European maritime transport or employment in the maritime industry. At this stage, it is difficult to determine when discussions on such matters will commence, how long they will take, or even more, what their final result will be.

According to some shipowners, the costs related to the possible implementation of the regulations proposed by the EP will negatively affect the condition of maritime transport, in particular within the EU. This may also lead to an increase in the costs of transport, which in turn may imply an increase in the prices of products transported by sea, which will have an impact on all Europeans through their wallet.

You may have the impression that a great number of companies, when under a strong environmental pressure, do not contest the accelerated implementation of sustainable development principles in the maritime transport. The problem comes down to the need for a reliable evaluation of the economic effects, covering other industries as well, which such EC's proposals may generate if they are reflected in real decisions, especially right now, in the times of the pandemic. In fact, no one will declare that they do not want to follow such guidelines as this would lead to blacklisting. It is the type of political correctness, which is gradually becoming well-established in the economic sphere”, says prof. dr. hab. Andrzej S. Grzelakowski, Head of the Department of Logistics and Transport Systems at the Gdynia Maritime University.

Article developed with Namiary na Morze i Handel magazine

phot. Namiary na Morze i Handel

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