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Argus Media: EU agrees on GHG bunker fuel intensity cuts in shipping sector

24 Mar 2023

The European Parliament and EU member states have today agreed that the greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of fuels used in ships over 5,000 gross tonnage (GT) should be cut by 80pc by 2050, from a 2020 baseline, increasing the sector’s contribution to the wider EU emissions target.

23 March, 2023

The parliament and council also agreed that the GHG intensity of fuels in the shipping sector needs to decrease by at least 2pc from 2025, 6pc from 2030, 14.5pc from 2035, 31pc from 2040 and 62pc as of 2045. The regulation would double count GHG cuts from renewable hydrogen and green ammonia.

The targets cover CO2, methane and nitrous oxide emissions over the full lifecycle of the fuels, according to the commission. It applies to energy used on board ships, in or between EU ports and to 50pc of the fuel used “on voyages where thee departure or arrival port is outside of the EU or in EU outermost regions”.

All GHG cuts are relative to a defined 2020 GHG level of 91.16g of CO2 per MJ. The agreement also sets out that if the commission reports that the share of renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBOs), including hydrogen, accounts for less than 1pc of the shipping sector fuel mix in 2031, a 2pc RFNBOs fuel use target will be set from 2034.

The commission put forward the legal proposals in July 2021 to mandate an average GHG intensity cuts for energy used in the shipping sector by 6pc by 2030, by 49pc by 2050 and by 75pc by 2050, all from 2020 levels.

It is charged with reviewing the rules by 2028, and if appropriate, proposing extending the GHG intensity cuts to smaller ships, or increasing the 50pc coverage of GHG cuts for non-EU journeys.

The political agreement, which needs to be formally approved by EU member states and the whole parliament, obliges containerships and passenger ships to use on-shore power supply from 2030 and in the rest of EU ports from 2035.

Waterborne transport accounted for 3-4pc of the bloc’s total CO2 emissions in 2021, according to the EU, which said that the new targets will give the legal certainty that ship operators and fuel producers need and support production of sustainable maritime fuels on a large scale.

Swedish centre-right EPP member Jorgen Warborn said the regulation will guarantee the shipping sector long-term rules and predictability. And EU transport commissioner Adina Valean said the agreement sets a long-term signal to shipowners, operators, fuel producers, shipyards and equipment manufacturers to invest in sustainable maritime fuels and zero-emission technologies.

But German green Jutta Paulus said the compromise falls “far short” of what is “technically possible and necessary” from a climate policy perspective. “The EU limits itself to microscopic quotas for the 2020s and provides no incentives for additional investments in sustainable synthetic fuels,” Paulus said, pointing to a “Swiss cheese” law with numerous exceptions.

“This is the beginning of the end for fossil fuels in shipping,” said Faig Abbasov, director of shipping at campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E). “LNG is still a compliant fuel for some time,” he added, noting less room for LNG to more stringent GHG reduction targets, mandates and mulitipliers for RFNBOs like hydrogen and green ammonia.

EU energy ministers had previously faced difficulties agreeing among themselves on the GHG reduction targets for the maritime sector and the on-shore power supply (OPS) requirements, penalties and geographical scope.

The European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) had pushed — unsuccessfully — for member states to accept mandatory requirements on fuel suppliers so as to ensure that shipowners are not “unduly penalised” if the sustainable fuels necessary for compliance are not delivered.

ECSA secretary general Sotiris Raptis told Argus earlier this month that if fuel suppliers were not included in the regulation there would “no guarantee that there will be sufficient quantities of renewable and low carbon fuels”.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is currently only targeting a 70pc cut in CO2 emissions intensity by 2050 from a 2008 baseline, with a target to reduce total annual GHG emissions by at least 50pc by 2050. IMO member countries are focusing on “revising” their initial 2018 strategy by mid-2023.

By Dafydd ab Iago


Photo credit and source: Argus Media
Published: 24 March, 2023

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