Reaching a political proposal to limit the CO2 emissions of the shipping industry has been a long process for the EU's Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard. At first she was prepared to introduce EU legislation sidestepping the UN's international maritime body, the IMO. Last fall she withdrew the threat of unilateral EU legislation and decided, along with her colleague, Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas, to leave the final decision in the hands of the IMO, opting instead to start work on legislation related to actually monitoring and registering the global fleet's CO2 emissions.
Since then she has been fighting her way through the nooks and crannies of the EU system: On the one side there is the EU Parliament, where some parties want sulphur and nitrogen covered by the monitoring system, while others do not want the system at all. And then there is the Council of Ministers, which as late as Friday, according to Connie Hedegaard, displayed a certain degree of understanding toward the basic elements of the Commissioner's proposal. She is therefore confident that clarification and hopefully an approval of the MRV model (Monitoring, Registration, and Verification) could come during the spring of 2014.
Up to the Rapporteur
"I am somewhat hopeful in light of the responses I've received so far. There have been some challenges along the way in relation to the European Parliament, where some have wanted NOx and SOx covered by the proposal, as well as wanting ships down to 400 dwt included in the MRV system, though this is not supported by the Council of Ministers," says Connie Hedegaard.
It is now left to the European Parliament to finish the proposal, and this will happen once the Environmental Rapporteur finishes his rapport on the proposal. As it looks now, Connie Hedegaard estimates that the MRV system will focus exclusively on CO2, and that there will be a lower limit exempting ships of less than 5,000 dwt from partaking in the monitoring, as the MRV system would result in a somewhat large financial and administrative burden to the ships while the gain would be fairly small, she explains.
CO2 emissions must be fenced in
"I think the Council of Ministers has a fairly good feel for fencing in most of the CO2 emissions as things are looking now, so it should be realistic to get this approved during the spring," she says.
Following this process, the IMO's Environmental Committee will continue work on the model, in order to ensure a qualified projection regarding how much CO2 is emitted from various types of ships, at which speeds, etc.
Only then can the IMO start work on the real core of the matter, namely reducing the CO2 emissions of the global fleet. Connie Hedegaard is still hopeful that this will happen by 2020.
"I'm hoping for international legislation by 2020, though this means that the IMO needs to hurry," she says.