European Commission sees maritime, aviation sector hardest to decarbonize amid fresh targets

News from Brussels

Source: Hellenic Shipping News, 2020-12-11

The European Commission has set out new targets for decarbonising transport, highlighting that aviation and waterborne transportation face greater decarbonisation challenges because of a lack of market-ready zero-emission technologies. It comes amid industry concerns about regional climate regulations.

Maritime transportation and aviation face similar challenges of long development and life cycle of vessels, large investments in refueling equipment and infrastructure and international competition, the Commission said in supplementary material to its Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy on 9 December.

In order to improve the energy efficiency and reduce emissions of aircraft and vessels, ambitious standards for their design and operation must be promoted, the main strategy document said, also published on 9 December

The Commission said the EU must continue to work closely with all international organisations, such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the International Maritime Organisation, on concrete measures aimed at reaching science-based global emission reduction goals consistent with the Paris Agreement.

A variety of future fuels lie before the shipping industry and it is up to global policy makers such as the IMO to ensure shipowners ordering vessels now are not penalised, according to industry experts.

Divergences are likely to emerge in the future, in terms of regulations between different regions and between access to different fuels, and it is up to policymakers to keep the gaps as narrow as possible to see that those who have to act now and take the next important steps for the industry do not suffer for it, industry figures said during S&P Global Platts Mediterranean Bunker Fuel & Shipping virtual conference on 27 November. The share of alternative, zero and low carbon fuels in waterborne transportation will reach 8-13% of the maritime fuel mix by 2030 and 85-90% by 2050, the commission said in material accompanying the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy.

The Commission will propose extending the EU Emissions Trading System to the maritime transportation sector in June 2021.

European shipowners pushed back on 16 September on a decision in the European Parliament to draft a proposal to include shipping under the ETS from 2022.

The ETS is due to shift into a higher gear when a fourth trading phase starts in January.

The 16-year-old carbon market has begun to play a more significant role in decarbonising Europe’s economy in recent years, helping prompt a shift from emissions-intensive coal to natural gas and renewable sources for electricity generation.

But in its current form, the system has failed to cut carbon emissions in the industrial sectors at anything approaching the same degree. That may start to change during the next 10-year trading phase, as the market’s rules begin to tighten the supply of allowances available to those sectors.

A review of the ETS is due in the second quarter of 2021, so it aligns with plans to cut carbon by 55% by 2030.

The upcoming FuelEU Maritime Initiative is planned to boost production and uptake of sustainable fuels and the Commission will consider establishing a Renewable and Low-Carbon fuels Value Chain Alliance, the Commission said.

Establishing clean ports and Emissions Control Areas in all EU waters is also a priority, the Commission said.

There is currently an ECA in the English Channel, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, where sulfur content marine fuel emissions there are 0.1%, compared with 0.5% on the high seas.

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