Fog shrouds Bilbao docks, Spain. The European Parliament has called to eliminate pollution from ships when in port. Photo: Mike St Maur Sheil/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images Fog shrouds Bilbao docks, Spain. The European Parliament has called to eliminate pollution from ships when in port. Photo: Mike St Maur Sheil/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images

European Parliament demands move towards low-carbon shipping

The European Commission must “lead by example” in phasing out maritime emissions, say MEPs, who have called on the executive to support eliminating pollution from ships when in port and restrict sulphurous emissions in EU waters.

In a plenary resolution agreed on Tuesday, the European Parliament repeated its call from last September for the shipping industry to contribute to reaching carbon neutrality by making a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030, and for the EU emissions trading system to be extended to cover the sector.

But they also added new demands, not least that establishing a sulphur emissions control area (SECA) for the Mediterranean should be put before the International Maritime Organization (IMO) by the end of the year. Member states should also support “swiftly adopting” similar controls for nitrogen oxides, says the resolution, and extend both to all EU waters.

However, it also recognises the problems associated with SECAs. The use of scrubbers to remove sulphur oxides “should not lead to a shift in pollution from air to water”, says the resolution, so the commission should work with the IMO to ensure waste water is collected for processing on shore. Member states should ban discharges from open-loop scrubbers, it adds, and the commission should propose a gradual phase-out of the technology, which allows the use of cheap high-sulphur oil, circumventing a global limit that entered force last year.

Furthermore, parliament called on the commission to propose mandating zero-pollution shipping at berth and incentivise the use of onshore power supplies.

A further demand is for the commission to revise the Port State Control Directive by the end of the year “to allow for more effective and comprehensive control of ships and simplified procedures, including incentives for compliance with environmental, social, public health and labour law standards” and “dissuasive sanctions, taking into account environmental, public health, tax and social law”.

S&D MEP Vera Tax, who was responsible for drafting the resolution, said: “To achieve our climate goals, every sector must participate, including the maritime sector. Therefore, we need ambitious goals at a European level to green and digitalise the shipping industry, as well as to support the use of clean electricity in ports.”

The vote came the same day that green group Transport & Environment published a report concluding that 7% of the EU’s shipping fuels need to be zero-carbon by 2030 for the sector to decarbonise fully by 2050.

It said that there is a “clear path” involving limited deployment of so-called e-fuels as soon as possible, alongside speed optimisation and supplementing engine propulsion with sails. Supplies of either e-ammonia or e-hydrogen could reach the goal in time, which should be set in the forthcoming FuelEU maritime legislation.

gareth.simkins@haymarket.com

Follow-up: Resolution and T&E report

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