EU ETS in maritime – No European solo efforts


The European emission trading system has proved to be a constructive climate protection instrument for a number of industrial sectors. The inclusion of maritime transport in the European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) is extremely critical, as there is a risk of distortion of competition. In order to avoid carbon leakage and maintain a level playing field in international maritime transport, the BDI favours international approaches.

Originally, the EU had decided in 2017 to exclude maritime transport from the ETS and not to tackle the extension until 2023. The inclusion of maritime transport in the EU ETS is now planned ahead of schedule for 2021 as part of the Green Deal. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) had already agreed in 2018 on an emission reduction path that provides for a reduction of at least 50 percent by 2050 compared to 2008. This ambitious path, which is in line with the Paris Climate Convention, is an internationally supported compromise by the IMO member states. The EU's plans to include European maritime transport in the EU ETS are now prematurely intervening in the market before IMO measures are implemented. Particularly against the background of the current global pandemic situation, it is urgently necessary to refrain from competition-distorting measures that would place an additional burden on European maritime transport in international competition.

Successes at international level

In this regard, the United Nations' International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has already proved its capacity to act on several occasions in the past. Adoption of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) in 2011 can be mentioned as an example. At that time, the participating States reached an agreement on an energy efficiency standard for new vessels whereby the latter must meet these minimum requirements expressed in gCO2 per tonne mile. IMO also recently decided on the introduction of a worldwide sulphur limit in fuels from 2020 onwards. This is intended to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions through shipping fuels markedly.

Ensure equality of opportunity in shipping

The EU should not go it alone at the expense of the European maritime economy and would favour ports and maritime transport directly at the EU's borders. The EU thus runs the risk of shifting the problem of CO2 emissions to the EU's borders (carbon leakage). In particular, the fact that with the UK's withdrawal from the EU, there are attractive ports in the immediate vicinity of the EU should not be underestimated.

In principle, an international solution at IMO level should take precedence over special European routes. Harmonisation of European climate protection measures and IMO measures should be the objective. In the case of shipping, the BDI welcomes the approach of achieving the targeted reductions in CO2 and air pollutant emissions within the IMO framework. The highly international character of shipping requires a global approach in order to reduce negative external effects and at the same time ensure uniform framework conditions in international competition.