Emissions control in the European Union

The EU accounts for around 15 per cent of world's trade in goods. As a result, EU regulations on emissions can have a significant impact on global shipping.

In 2013, the European Commission introduced a three-part strategy to reduce GHG emissions from all ships trading in European waters.

  • Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) of CO2 emissions from large ships using EU ports.
  • Greenhouse gas reduction targets for the maritime transport sector.
  • Further measures, including market-based measures, in the medium to long term.

Emissions control

In 2007, Sulphur Emissions Control Areas (SECAs) were established in the Baltic and North Seas. While these areas do not yet include GHGs, they create a framework for future action on CO2 emissions. Likewise, the EU Sulphur Directive mandates that ships that berth in EU ports must use marine fuels with a sulphur content not exceeding 0.10 per cent.

“Fit for 55” In September 2020, the Commission adopted a proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 a compared to 1990 levels to put the EU on a responsible path to becoming climate neutral by 2050. If implemented, owners and operators may face maximum limits on GHG intensity of energy use on board, face obligations to use shore power and the introduction of a minimum tax rate on certain fuels and vessels.

Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)

First introduced in 2005 for some land-based industries and aviation, the EUs ETS is the only carbon “cap and trade” system in the world. In 2020, the European Parliament has adopted a resolution to include shipping in Europe’s (ETS) from 2023, with a target to achieve a 40 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030. Despite some resistance from shipowners, final amendments to the legislation are expected shortly.

Port authorities

To improve local air quality and reduce carbon emissions, many ports are working to offer shore power. For example, The Port of Rotterdam Authority has announced plans to allow a significant share of sea-going vessels to ‘plug in’ by 2030. And in 2020, the Port of Hamburg received EUR 42 million from the German Ministry of Economics and Energy to build shore power capacity for cruise and container ships by 2022. The EU is also considering a proposal (Directive 2009/16/EC) requiring ports to offer shore power to certain ship types.

DNV INSIGHT: the EU and the IMO

The EU plans to introduce regulations to reduce GHG emissions in European waters that exceed IMO requirements. While some argue that the EUs proactive approach to combatting climate change will push the IMO to move more decisively, others worry that regionalising regulations will slow global action. Despite their differences, the two regulatory bodies work together on a broad range of issues. For example, in 2016, The European Commission contributed EU 10 million to the EC-IMO Energy Efficiency Project to create Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. Through technical assistance and capacity-building, the Centres promote the uptake of low carbon technologies in less developed countries.

Regulatory developments EU