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EU recognises shipping abatement challenge with green fuels priority

European Commission European-Commission-Berlaymont-building-green.jpg
A European Commission proposal would give shipping priority access to low- and zero-emissions fuels to help meet the bloc's decarbonisation targets.

The text proposes giving the maritime industry priority over sectors which have access to other decarbonisation solutions like electrification, a recognition of the hard-to-abate nature of emissions from assets with high power demands moving around the world with long periods away from land-based infrastructure.

The policy formed part of a communication from the commissiong to the European Parliament setting out plans for a 2040 emissions reduction target of 90% to ensure the bloc meets its goal of climate neutrality by 2050.

The proposal noted the importance of fuel prices to competitiveness in maritime and aviation transport, and that access to sufficient volumes of sustainable fuels is key to reaching climate ambitions.

Further, in a section of the proposal on land, fuel and the bioeconomy, the commission said: “Bioenergy should go in priority to sectors where the potential for electrification is limited, such as air or maritime transport.” 

The proposal noted the existing mechanisms for carbon emissions reduction in the EU, including Fit for 55 measures, FuelEU Maritime, ETS, and the use of ETS revenues to organise calls for proposals under the innovation fund with specific maritime topics. 

The European Community Shipowners Assocation (ECSA) welcomed the Commission’s recognition of the cost impact of greener fuels and its commitment to considering regulatory support.

“It’s the first time we see such a strong commitment to give shipping priority access to low- and zero-emission fuels such as advanced biofuels and e-fuels. The price gap is immense, as the cost of sustainable fuels can be four times higher compared to fuels currently used in shipping. We look forward to working with the Commission to translate this commitment into immediate action, and to leverage the earmarked ETS revenues through dedicated calls already under the current Innovation Fund” said Sotiris Raptis, ECSA’s secretary general.