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Greek PM calls for carbon ETS level playing field

Greek PM calls for carbon ETS level playing field
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime minister of EU shipping power Greece has told the European Commission that adding the shipping industry to the bloc’s carbon emissions trading scheme should be proportionate and tightly enforced to secure a level playing field for the European fleet in global markets.

PM Mitsotakis in a letter to Commission head Ursula von der Leyen, on October 19, not only urged the EU to move slowly on shipping decarbonisation, but said countries should also get back the revenue raised by the costs their ships would pay and money should be spent on decarbonising shipping.

Greek-owned vessels represent 58% of the EU’s fleet.

Mitsotakis wrote that with EC support Greece has shown it is possible to combine decarbonisation with robust economic growth and safety nets for the most vulnerable. He said the availability of the suitable technology has been a key as renewable energy sources have become the most cost effective option for electricity generation and thus much of the energy demand.

“This is, however, not the case in maritime transport where a technology that can deliver substantial decarbonisation does not yet exist,” wrote Mitsotakis. He said: “The need to make progress in this respect is urgent, given that maritime transport is of paramount importance to the EU as a whole, as well as Greece, and a strategic asset for a more global and geopolitical EU, which has rightly been identified by the Commission as a core priority.”

Greece made a plea to Brussels to “engage at the earliest with the Greek authorities and with the shipping community, in order to find realistic and constructive solutions”.

Mitsotakis’ letter was accompanied by Greece’s detailed proposal for the green transition for maritime transport. He said the proposal was developed with the close involvement of the shipping industry and reflects the industry’s and the government’s joint position.

In summary, the proposal contains two main elements. It maintains decisive reduction in GHG emissions in the shipping sector will not be feasible in the absence of mature and available-at-scale technological solutions. Therefore there is an immediate need to support research and innovation and hence the proposal for an EU research centre for alternative marine fuels and technologies. The centre will coordinate the in and the out-of-sector stakeholders involved in the development of alternatives and possibly co-finance investment and research, development and deployment through the innovative fund.

The second is the extension of the EU ETS to the maritime transport needs to be fair and proportionate. Specifically, the allocation of EU ETS revenue generated by the extension should be proportional to the members states shares in total EU maritime emissions and mainly used to support the decarbonisation of maritime transport. Moreover, the extension of the EU ETS needs to be designed in alignment with the ‘polluter pays’ principle and without distorting within-sector competition, particularly for SMEs, rendering the ship’s commercial operator responsible for the GHG emissions as a general rule. Extension of the EU ETS must be accompanied by measures that ensure tight enforcement and safeguards to maintain a level playing field for shipping in the EU, vis-à-vis other jurisdictions and other modes of transport.

In the wake of Mitsotakis’ intervention, Union of Greek Shipowners, UGS, president, Theodore Veniamis said “Greece has taken an initiative for the effective decarbonisation of our industry and for real GHG emissions reductions”.

Veniamis said: “Mr Mitsotakis’ proposal places Greece in the forefront of European developments regarding the sustainability of both the environment and of EU’s important strategic asset, the shipping industry.”

The UGS said its wish to contribute with its specialised know-how and its hands-on shipping experience to the current environmental debate has compiled relevant technical information.

The owners body said the information illustrates that the introduction and market uptake of new, economically viable and safe low and zero emission fuels and propulsion technologies available worldwide are essential for shipping’s energy transition and that these are mainly the responsibility and area of expertise of out of sector stakeholders in the maritime field.

“It is important for policy and law makers to take this reality into account before regulating solely for shipowners,” said Veniamis.

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