EU Parliament passes law to make ships report climate emissions

For the first time, all shipping companies calling at EU ports will have to measure and publicly report carbon emissions under a law approved by an overwhelming majority of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee today. Sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) says that the law is weak – it only monitors fuel consumption instead of directly reducing it, and only covers CO2 and not air pollutants like SO2 or NOx – but it can still trigger fuel savings indirectly.

The EU law will require ship operators to publicly report three metrics to measure the environmental performance of ships: the theoretical energy performance of the ship known as the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI); its real-world fuel consumption; and its energy efficiency, that is, the amount of fuel divided by the amount of cargo. The more cargo a ship can carry using the same amount of fuel, the more efficient and cheaper to run it is. [1]

The publication of ships’ real energy efficiency will provide shipping users in Europe and worldwide with transparent data to identify the most efficient ships and practices. This can trigger a virtuous cycle of increased competition among operators, which will enable fuel savings and emissions reductions.

Sotiris Raptis, clean shipping officer at T&E, said: “Today’s decision does not cut CO2 and fuel use directly but can make it happen indirectly. Everybody benefits from better-informed decisions on what types of ships, companies and routes to use. This measure is a stepping stone for an eventual measure to actually require emissions reductions, which is what is urgently needed.”

Currently ships are responsible for over 3% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Commission estimates that CO2 emissions from ships sailing in European waters amounted to 180 million tonnes in 2010. If these emissions were reported as a country, maritime transport would be Europe’s eighth largest emitter.

According to the greenhouse gases study adopted by the UN’s shipping body, the IMO, last month, under a business-as-usual scenario and if other sectors of the economy reduce emissions to keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius, shipping could represent a whopping 10% of global GHG emissions by 2050.

Note to editors:
[1] If ships are more energy efficient, they will burn less fuel and – as a consequence – emit less carbon dioxide.

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