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ICS: Shipping's UN carbon debt is no more than what little eco harm it does

THE global shipping industry is on track to reduce its emissions by more than 20 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020, says the London-based International Chamber of Shipping ICS), which represents 85 per cent of the world's merchant fleet.

ICS: Shipping's UN carbon debt is no more than what little eco harm it does
08 December 2014 - 23:03
ICS: Shipping's UN carbon debt is no more than what little eco harm it does

THE global shipping industry is on track to reduce its emissions by more than 20 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020, says the London-based International Chamber of Shipping ICS), which represents 85 per cent of the world's merchant fleet.

And while the shipping industry is willing to do its part in supporting the UN's Green Climate Fund, it's contribution must reflect the sector's modest contribution to total global CO2 emissions, reported London's Tanker Operator. 

"ICS is firmly opposed to any suggestion that the shipping industry should collectively pay tens of billions of dollars each year, stressing that the industry is not a cash cow," said the report. 

These statements were made in a brochure prepared for the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference in Lima this month, reported London's Tanker Operator.

The shipping industry, it said, is the only industrial sector, which is already covered by a binding global agreement to reduce its CO2 emissions, through technical and operational measures agreed by the UN's International Maritime Organisation (IMO). 

The ICS said IMO is now developing additional measures to reduce CO2 emissions from shipping and that the UN Conference needed to maintain its support for the IMO as the principal forum for addressing emissions from maritime transport, which cannot be attributed to individual national economies.

The ICS emphasised that any decision, for example on whether to develop a Market Based Measure for shipping that might be linked to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), should be a matter for IMO member states. 

The IMO will be best placed to develop an approach that can reconcile the UNFCCC principle of "Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR)" whereby developing countries are treated differently "with the need for all ships, regardless of flag, to be treated in a uniform manner".

Shipping is a global industry requiring rules on CO2 to be applied on a global basis to all ships. Apart from preventing market distortion in this totally globalised sector, this is necessary to avoid "carbon leakage" since only about 35 per cent of the world fleet is registered with those developed nations that are covered by emission reduction commitments under the existing Kyoto Protocol on climate change prevention. 

A seminar organised by London's Norton Rose Fulbright law firm brought together experts to provide their views on compliance and enforcement of CO2 fuel rules, which dominated proceedings.

Ignoring the North American ECA where non-compliance won't be an option as the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the DOJ will come down hard on offenders with big fines, vessel detentions and propose to step-up fuel sampling.

But in Europe, 28 European Union (EU) member states are hastily putting together a common approach to ensure compliance, but according to one source, these measures won't be implemented until March.

The EU has also said that they will monitor penalties imposed by member states for non-compliance as the levels of fines remain the prerogative of each individual state. Historically, within Europe fines for non-compliance with regulations have been far ranging, some severely punitive to a slap on the wrist.

There are also questions about their legality, reported Tanker Operator. Can an EU member state impose a fine covering just its own territorial waters for non-compliance, or should the penalty include the whole period the vessel has been emitting in the ECA?

One widespread fear is a surge in loss of propulsion incidents in vessels approaching the ECAs, as ships switch (or blend) from HFO to distillates. The number of US loss of propulsion incidents has increased dramatically as a result of fuel switches. 

According to Bunkerworld, 60,000 vessels transit the southern entrance of the English Channel and North Sea annually, so there is a real concern about a possible situation of a vessel becoming immobilised.

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