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EU lawmakers support the expansion of Europe’s carbon market to shipping as global talks are adrift 

BRUSSELS, 15 September 2020. The European Parliament has voted to extend the EU carbon market to cover international shipping, to establish a maritime decarbonisation fund and to set a mandatory reduction target for the carbon intensity of shipping. Carbon Market Watch welcomes the decision as a strong signal towards the UN shipping body that is failing to take action on carbon pollution from ships.

In a vote today, members of the European Parliament backed the lead lawmaker Jutta Paulus’ proposal to extend the EU carbon market to cover international shipping. The decision is a response to the lack of progress at the global talks to tackle dangerous carbon pollution at the UN shipping agency International Maritime Organisation (IMO). 

Wijnand Stoefs, policy officer at Carbon Market Watch said:

The Parliament sends a strong message both to the IMO and EU governments that Europe must act now and take the lead in tackling carbon pollution from ships. The global talks are adrift while the climate crisis is not waiting. Bringing shipping under the EU carbon market is one of the objectives of the EU Green Deal anyway, so there is really no reason to postpone this.

The Parliament also supported Paulus’ proposal to establish an “Ocean Fund” and a binding target to force shipping companies to reduce the carbon intensity of their transport by at least 40% by 2030 compared to the 2018-2019 baseline.

The Ocean Fund would recycle half the revenues from the EU carbon market generated by the shipping sector into supporting decarbonization actions and innovation in the sector itself and the protection of marine environments. This could mobilize between 1.5 and 2.5 billion euros annually for climate action in this sector. 

Wijnand Stoefs:

“Pricing carbon pollution from shipping and reinvesting the revenues to support further climate action in the shipping sector is clever. It drives innovation and helps create sustainable jobs. Setting a binding 2030 emissions reductions target also pushes for short-term climate action. If done right, this could be a game-changer for shipping climate action, both in Europe and globally. 

The vote was a part of the ongoing legislative work to revise the rules on the monitoring, reporting and verification of CO2 emissions from maritime transport regulation (the “MRV Regulation”). The European Green Deal also includes a prospect to include the international shipping sector in the EU carbon market as the legislation is reviewed in 2021.

The EU member states developed their position in October 2019. Trilogue negotiations between the European Parliament, member states and the European Commission are set to start in the autumn, however, there is a possibility that they will be postponed until the first quarter of 2021.

Wijnand Stoefs:

“We call on the German presidency of the Council to kick-start the negotiations with the Parliament and Commission as soon as possible. The EU member states should support the ambitious, balanced and fair position of the European Parliament.”



Wijnand Stoefs, Policy Officer
+32 472 32 36 37
[email protected]

Kaisa Amaral, Communications Director
+32 485 07 68 90
[email protected]

Notes to editors

  • Joint letter in support of the ENVI report on the MRV revision
  • Shipping accounts for 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and this could grow by between 50 and 250% by 2050 if no action is taken.
  • EU related CO2 emissions from maritime transport are comparable to the emissions of Belgium and representing 13% of total EU transport emissions. 
  • Finding the solutions to cut shipping CO2 pollution falls on the International Maritime Organisation. Its member countries agreed in 2018 to halving maritime GHG emissions by 2050 compared to 2008, but since then there is no real progress on how that would be done. 
  • There are no international or EU climate policies currently tackling emissions from the shipping sector.
  • Carbon pricing alone will not be enough to tackle the shipping climate problem, but contributes to it as a medium-term measure. Short-term measures such as reducing the speed of ships by 20% would immediately cut pollution by 34%.
  • The sector’s methane emissions increased by 150% in the last six years due to increased deployment of liquified natural gas (LNG) ships.


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