EU ETS in maritime – No European go-it-alone initiative


The European emission trading system has proved to be a constructive climate protection instrument for a number of industrial sectors. However, its application to international shipping – as some MEPs have recently demanded – would be a unilateral action with serious consequences, leading to considerable distortions of competition.

In the framework of the debate surrounding revision of the EU emission trading directive for the fourth trading period (2021-2030), consideration is being given in the European Parliament to inclusion also of international shipping in the existing EU emission trading system. BDI recently came out explicitly against this demand, since it not only disregards the climate protection measures taken at international level but would also create a considerable competition disadvantage for European shipping companies vis-à-vis foreign competitors. Bearing in mind the global competition situation, the drafting of climate protection instruments should be left to the organisations of the United Nations.

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 shipping sector needs reliable and non-discriminatory competition. By contrast, an extension of the emission trading system would have the reverse effect. Shipping companies have already carried through massive technical and operational upgrading measures which on their own have already caused financial burdens. To this is added that, thanks to the upgrading measures, the energy efficiency of these vessels is such that these companies would operate on the allowances market as net buyers. The consequence would be to make traded allowances scarcer and accordingly place an additional burden on further industrial sectors within the EU.