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International Chamber of Shipping puts forward plans for global carbon levy

International Chamber of Shipping puts forward plans for global carbon levy
The levy would affect ships exceeding 5,000 gross tonnage, for each tonne of CO2 emitted

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has set out a proposal for a global levy on carbon emissions from ships, in what would be a first for any industrial sector.

The association, which represents the world’s national shipowner associations and more than 80% of the merchant fleet, presented a submission to the UN, calling for an internationally accepted market-based measure to accelerate the uptake and deployment of zero-carbon fuels.

According to papers handed to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the levy would be based on mandatory contributions by ships trading globally, exceeding 5,000 gross tonnage, for each tonne of CO2 emitted.

The money would go into an ‘IMO Climate Fund’ which, as well as closing the price gap between zero-carbon and conventional fuels, would be used to deploy the bunkering infrastructure required in ports throughout the world to supply fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia, ensuring consistency in the industry’s green transition for both developed and developing economies.

Guy Platten, secretary general of ICS, stated: “What shipping needs is a truly global market-based measure like this that will reduce the price gap between zero-carbon fuels and conventional fuels. The rapid development of such a mechanism is now a vital necessity if governments are to match actions with rhetoric and demonstrate continued leadership for the decarbonisation of shipping.

“There’s no question that improvements in technology can enable the transition to zero-emission shipping. However, huge leaps must still be taken if we’re to achieve the readiness levels needed for deployment at scale. This includes building the necessary infrastructure to support such as transition.”

He continued: “We need to be able to put zero emission ships in the water by 2030 without challenging price and safety issues. If the IMO lends it’s backing to our proposal, then we may yet be able to change this and deploy technologies economically and equitably.”

Shipping is responsible for approximately 2% of global carbon emissions the industry is looking to see zero-carbon ships brought to the water by shipyards by 2030.

However, the ICS noted that at current rates of production, zero-carbon fuels are not commercially available at the scale needed for the global fleet. The carbon levy is intended to expedite the creation of a market that makes zero emission shipping viable.

The Fund would calculate the climate contributions to be made by ships, collect the contributions, and give evidence they have been made.

The ICS hopes that it would also support new bunkering infrastructure, so that new fuels, when developed, can be made available globally and from as many ports as possible.

To minimise any burden on UN Member States and ensure the rapid establishment of the carbon levy, the framework proposed by industry would utilise the mechanism already proposed by governments for a separate US$5bn R&D Fund to accelerate the development of zero-carbon technologies, which the UN IMO is scheduled to approve at a meeting in November immediately following COP 26.

The association believes that a mandatory global levy based MBM is strongly preferable over any unilateral, regional application of MBMs to international shipping, such as that proposed by the European Commission which wishes to extend the EU Emissions Trading System to international shipping.

It claimed that a piecemeal approach to MBMs, (the EU ETS will only apply to about 7.5% of global shipping emissions), will “ultimately fail to reduce global emissions from international shipping to the extent required by the Paris Agreement, whilst significantly complicating the conduct of maritime trade”.

Platten added: “Adopting our proposal for a levy-based system, will avoid the volatility that exists under emissions trading systems, such as the EU ETS – which in the case of shipping, seem to be more about generating revenue for governments from non-EU shipping, than helping shipping to decarbonise.

“A levy based system can give the industry price certainty, and more stability for making investment decisions in zero –carbon ships and developing emissions saving technology.”