Emissions Trading for the Shipping Sector – Criticism of EU Plans for Unilateral Action (cepInput)


The European Union wants to reduce CO2 emissions in the shipping sector. Brussels plans to include unilaterally emissions of the greenhouse gas in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), probably in mid-2021. The Centre for European Policy (cep) criticises the plan as inappropriate.


“Due to the global nature of the shipping sector, the EU should refrain from unilateral climate action. It would make more sense to push for a globally uniform emissions trading system within the framework of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO),” says cep expert Martin Menner, who co-authored the study for the Freiburg think tank.

Otherwise, according to Menner, there is a risk of international conflicts, evasive reactions, distortions of competition and an increase in global CO2 emissions. “If the EU nevertheless introduces emissions trading for shipping sector on its own, it should not include it in the EU ETS, but create a separate emissions trading system, so as not to place an additional burden on the industry in the EU ETS, which is threatened by relocation (carbon leakage),” emphasises the Freiburg scientist.

In order to cushion disproportionately high costs for small and medium-sized shipping companies, Menner proposes that the EU should introduce alternative forms of CO2 pricing in these cases.

The shipping sector was responsible for 2.2 per cent of global CO2 emissions before the outbreak of the Corona pandemic. This corresponds to Germany's entire CO2 emissions.