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EC welcomes progress at international level to tackle maritime emissions

The European Commission welcomes progress made this week within the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to address greenhouse gas emissions in the maritime sector. IMO notably adopted a global and mandatory system to collect fuel consumption data from ships.

The European Union and its Member States have been among the main advocates of such system, as outlined in the European Strategy for low-emission mobility adopted by the Commission in July 2016. Following the international agreement to tackle aviation emissions, reached earlier this month, thew recently deal was another significant addition to the global efforts to tackle climate change and modernise the economy.

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said recently, "Three weeks after the aviation deal in Montreal, the momentum for global action on climate remains strong. Today's agreement is a milestone for a cleaner shipping sector. Data collection is an important first step, and it is very positive that we also started a discussion on a fair contribution of shipping to the climate efforts. The Commission will continue to work closely with the International Maritime Organisation and all its members for a competitive and sustainable shipping sector."

Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella welcomed the decision on sulphur emissions: "The IMO took a landmark decision. The global cap agreed is fully in line with the sulphur cap already applicable in EU waters under the Sulphur Directive. The decision will significantly reduce the impact of ship emissions on human health and ensure a global level-playing-field for ship operators. I congratulate the coordinated support from EU Member States that was instrumental for the positive outcome achieved".

The agreement on a global and mandatory system to collect fuel consumption data was reached within the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organisation, the United Nations body responsible for shipping. In practice, as of 2019 ships over a certain threshold capacity (5,000 gross tonnage and above) will be required to collect data on fuel consumption and energy efficiency, and report it to the flag state. The data will be subsequently transferred to the IMO, which will produce a yearly report. This system constitutes an important first step for further decarbonisation measures.

The Committee also started to discuss the shipping sector's contribution to the international efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, as this sector is not explicitly mentioned in the Paris Agreement.

Next steps

The IMO now needs to develop guidelines regarding the implementation of the mandatory data collection scheme. The Commission and the EU Member States will continue actively to contribute to their development. The Commission will then assess whether the EU own data collection scheme should be aligned to the global one.

Further work is also expected within IMO on the definition of shipping's ambition in terms of GHG emissions reductions.

Background

The EU maritime sector overall generates a gross added value of just under €500 billion a year to which the shipping sector is one of the main contributors. The sector provides some 5.4 million jobs in the EU. Its future competitiveness goes hand-in-hand with greater environmental sustainability. Reducing shipping's environmental impacts is therefore a priority area as highlighted in the European Strategy for low-emission mobility adopted in July 2016. The implementation of the latter will be a priority in 2017 as President Juncker outlined in hisState of the Union address.

More information

MEMO on the key takeaways of the IMO meeting

IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee

A European Strategy for low-emission mobility

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