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Greek and Swedish shipowners in environmental NGO alliance on EU ETS

Photo: EU/Mauro Bottaro euflagsnew.jpg
Greek and Swedish shipowners organisations have formed an unlikely alliance with NGO Transport & Environment to press for a shipping fund as part of the EU Emissions Trading System plans for the industry.

The Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) and the Swedish Shipowners’ Association have joined forces with the environmental NGO Transport & Environment in calling on the European Commission (EC) to adopt a tailored approach for the international shipping industry in the context of the EU ETS review.

According to a statement circulated by the UGS, the three signatories underline the specific characteristics inherent to the shipping industry and advocate an ambitious, fit-for-purpose approach.  

They call for a dedicated shipping fund to guarantee price stability, reduce business uncertainty and limit financial costs and the administrative burdens for the thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which they say form the backbone of the shipping industry.

They say any fund should finance the necessary R&D into new green marine fuels, without which the decarbonisation of the industry will not be possible. In their joint letter to the EC they contend that crucially, “these new fuels and technologies will need to be developed by out-of-sector stakeholders, such as energy providers, shipyards, engine manufacturers”.

The co-signatories also call on the EC to apply the “polluter pays” principle and designate commercial operators, that is, the party paying for the fuel and controlling the vessels’ carbon footprint, as the responsible entity under the upcoming EU Market-Based Measure (MBM).

They also ask the EC not to allocate free allowances as, due to the characteristics of the different shipping sectors, these could lead to distortions of competition and unnecessary complexity. A phase-in period would be preferable.

UGS President, Theodore Veniamis, said: “Including shipping in the EU ETS without a fund and without making commercial operators responsible would unnecessarily disrupt the industry. Carbon trading is susceptible to distortion, profiteering and speculation. Any EU MBM should be scalable and compatible with future Imo measures and should take into account the fact SMEs are the mainstay of the international shipping industry. The EU’s objectives can and must be achieved through less burdensome and unsuitable means.”

Veniamis concluded: “Notwithstanding the fact that the European shipping industry is a cross-trader par excellence and cannot function with a patchwork of regional regimes, the industry has spent the past months proactively working on a feasible solution that would contribute to ambitious environmental objectives and would facilitate its energy transition.

“Joining forces with environmental NGOs and other business associations, we call on the commission to take serious note of our recommendations when drafting its proposal.”

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