The United Nations agency has criticised European moves to include shipping in the ETS, saying they could threaten its efforts on developing a global approach to reduce carbon emissions, reported London's S&P Global Platts.
"Shipowners that want to be prepared for the near future want to have a plug-and-play solution, something off the shelf to turn to as soon as carbon regulations arise," said biofuels GoodFuels marketing chief Astrid Sonneveld.
Lowering carbon dioxide emissions from marine fuels will be a more difficult proposition than cutting pollution from sulphur and other unwanted chemicals. Methods like using vessels more efficiently will need to be considered as well as finding cleaner fuels, she said.
"Decarbonisation is a priority for now," said Fast Group logistics chairwoman Catrien Scheers.
"We have to see that all terminals are efficient energy wise and all vessels are efficient." One option would be to use biofuels to power vessels to reduce carbon emissions, she said.
This month the Port of Amsterdam announced its fleet of five patrol vessels will use a blended product containing 30 per cent biodiesel, with carbon dioxide emissions savings of 25 per cent compared to traditional marine diesel oil.
GoodFuels forecast that marine biofuels could take up 5-10 per cent of global demand by 2030.
Said GoodFuels' Ms Sonneveld: "We believe inclusion in the EU ETS to be an important first step towards low carbon shipping. It will not help to bring the market for marine biofuel to a next level, but in our opinion any kind of progress sends a clear signal - it can be done - to the IMO."
For now, it appears unlikely that most shipowners will start to address carbon emissions until the regulatory environment for them and other pollution is clearer.