The European Union keeps looking for ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One place to cut emissions is the shipping industry—it’s just that the EU doesn’t quite know where to start.
Less Carbon Dioxide! Less!
It’s not that the EU has no ideas; rather, there are several. A document published last week outlines several ways to reduce emissions, including the carbon trading scheme used in aviation. In that case, carriers would be required to buy carbon allowances to cover their emissions, and then sell or trade any unused allowances.
Another thought under consideration is simply taxing either fuel or the emissions themselves (straightforward in theory), while yet another is to level vessels’ carbon caps. Also on the list is a compensation fund, where companies would pay out according to how much environmental damage they cause (which seems like it could get very messy very quickly).
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
According to Business Green, there’s no preferred option. However, this isn’t the first time the EU has brought up the subject of emissions trading for the shipping industry. While emissions from shipping are just 3% of the current global carbon dioxide emissions, that number will go up considerably over the next four decades if matters stay as they are.
So, why is the EU getting involved right now? Its legislation requires it to step in and take over if no international agreement is in place by the end of 2011 (yep, that’s over), and here we are with the industry recognizing the problem of emissions but without a solution. While the International Maritime Organization has a series of efficiency targets, there are no far-reaching agreements—and without world-wide applicability, any green policy measures might make trading uneven.
In the face of such indecision, the EU is asking for ideas and views on how to best reduce emissions from shipping in addition to those outlined in their consultation document. Submissions will be accepted until April 12th.
Questions or opinions? Is 3% enough to worry about? Let us know in the comments below.