Getting Europe's ship data together

The harmonisation of carbon emission data collecting regimes must consider those who are already on that path, and not jeopardise Europe’s global competitiveness, argues Pernille Weiss.
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By Pernille Weiss

Pernille Weiss (DK, EPP) is shadow rapporteur on Parliament’s carbon dioxide emissions from maritime transport report.

11 Aug 2020

One year ago, the European Commission started the important process of investigating how maritime transport can be made more environmentally friendly - a topic that could either move forward or set back the EU’s competitiveness and standing in global trade.

Therefore, we must prioritise the search for solutions that work best for both industry and consumers while having the environment on top of the agenda. When measuring the carbon emissions from ships, we have two different methods for collecting data.

There is the EU’s data collection system, the ‘THETIS-MRV module’, managed by the European Maritime Safety Agency, and the global ‘Data Collection System’, managed by the International Maritime Organization.

The Commission’s revision of the MRV Regulation, which governs the monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon dioxide emissions from maritime transport, seeks to align the two systems in the best way possible - to avoid double administrative burdens and find the best way possible for the industry itself.

“It is my ambition that we base our decisions on a strong evidence-based approach supported by real-world examples rather than just feelings, which is why considering the best of both worlds is preferable for all parties”

When looking at the two systems, one difference sets them very much apart; namely, what the calculations are based on. While the THETISMRV system is based on the actual cargo carried on a merchant ship calling at European ports, the IMO Data Collection System is based on theoretical capacity, which does not take into account what is actually carried.

For my Group, the EPP, it was very important from the beginning that an alignment of the two systems could in no way result in a worsening of conditions for the industry. This was also the position of the Council of Ministers, who agreed on this approach when they adopted the position, thereby choosing to keep cargo carried as a mandatory reporting requirement last year.

When legislating on an ever-evolving topic, it is important to turn our gaze to the real world and consider the big picture: who is working in this field and how are they affected by the legislation? One of the cornerstones for the EPP Group, in this case, has been the protection of first movers, those who are already working towards a carbon-neutral method.

Therefore, it was a great success for us that we secured a compromise amendment in Parliament, which clearly defines that “emission reduction targets should take into account efforts already undertaken by first mover companies.”

However, rapporteur Jutta Paulus (Greens/EFA) has suggested using 2018 levels as the base level for industry to reach the goal of 40 percent decarbonisation by 2030. Yet some European companies have already, for many years, and way before 2018, been working on lowering their carbon emissions.

This would mean that the companies on the forefront of decarbonisation are punished for being first movers. As such, we have suggested that 2008 levels should be used instead. It is so important that we take into consideration the companies that have already contributed to the industry as a whole by lowering their emissions.

We should think of them as our friends, not our enemies. Following the decision of the European Parliament’s ENVI Committee, the Commission shall now conduct a comprehensive impact study while fully recognising the emission reductions already undertaken by the ‘decarbonising first movers’ companies and, on that basis, define a baseline level by combining the best data from both systems.

It is my ambition that we base our decisions on a strong evidence-based approach supported by real-world examples rather than just feelings, which is why considering the best of both worlds is preferable for all parties.

The incentive to talk about feelings should rather be focused on the possible outcomes, especially if we choose a path that harms the industry. If we do so, it will lead to a weakened industry and a reduced ability to compete globally, eventually resulting in job losses worldwide.

“By welcoming maritime transport into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the introduction of the European Green Deal, decarbonation will stay at the top of the political agenda”

As responsible politicians, we should always work on lowering the administrative burden - for the system, the industries and ourselves. This applies when aligning the two data collection systems, but it also applies to the implementation and judicial process.

Therefore, we must not set out to solve problems which are already being solved internally or externally. We should then look at the Commission’s European Green Deal, which already works with these topics. There is no need for rushing a new solution for the maritime industry through Parliament, when the Commission has already stated that they want to make maritime transport a priority.

The European Green Deal means that we are already on the right path to lower emissions - with the assessment of emissions beginning in the summer of 2020, a new legislative proposal should be ready by summer 2021.

By welcoming maritime transport into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the introduction of the European Green Deal, decarbonisation will stay at the top of the political agenda. Therefore, we should remain focused on guarding the market-based system, ensuring it pushes the decarbonation of a globally competitive industry.

Read the most recent articles written by Pernille Weiss - Unlocking the hidden potential of waste water

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