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Citizens tell EU to “Sort Your Ship Out” during EU Shipping Week

A single container shipping company, MSC, is now one of Europe's top greenhouse gas polluters

On the 19th February, 2020 a coalition of shipping-focused climate activists called for urgent EU action this year to combat the impact of shipping. They were joined outside the European Parliament by MEP Jutta Paulus. She said -

As we have declared as the Parliament a climate and environmental urgency, it’s high time that we stop just counting emissions and start reducing them

A single container shipping company, MSC, recently entered the top 10 European greenhouse gas polluters list, joining giant coal power plants and airlines.

But unlike other sectors, shipping’s CO2 emissions remain completely unregulated, its fossil fuel remains tax free, and its ownership is directed through tax haven “Flag States”.

These Flag States themselves lobby to block action at a corporate - captured UN agency which is supposed to be making rules in the public interest. There is still no meaningful CO2 reduction regulation in place, 23 years after the Kyoto protocol handed responsibility to the IMO in 1997. In a climate emergency, this situation is insane. We don’t have time left.

MEP Jutta Paulus speaks to campaigners outside the EU Parliment

MEP Jutta Paulus also said - "We have very high emissions from the shipping sector in the EU that would sum up to the whole country of Belgium… we are calling for a 40% reduction in transportation work by 2030." She went on -

If a ship owner cannot handle the necessary investment - they have to sail slower because if you reduce speed you save fuel.

On 19th February the European Parliament Transport Committee will meet to discuss regulation of the emissions from shipping as part of the revisions of its Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) regulation. This is the moment for the EU to act to make rules for shipping to pay for its emissions, and create a Maritime fund to build the zero emission ships of the future.

The Secretary General of the corporate-captured IMO, Kitack Lim, is coming to Brussels to lobby MEPs on Thursday this week – probably hoping to kill off more ambitious regional climate action. The EU must stand up for its right, and duty, to take the lead in cleaning up this sector against vested interests.

What are the campaigners calling for?

--EU must take responsibility for emissions from EU trade and regulate these shipping emissions

--Shipping emissions can be regulated via the existing Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) regulation which is currently being reviewed by the European Parliament

--Ships must pay for their climate pollution just like any other industrial sector

--Revenue from a shipping carbon price can be invested in building new zero emission vessels (many companies are working on this, but need funding for development and trials of new fuel and propulsion systems)

--The technology already exists for zero emission shipping, but must be scaled up massively

Quotes from “sort your ship out” participants

  • Rosa Hofgärtner, Sail to the COP – “The Paris Agreement calls for economy wide emissions reductions which means international shipping should be part of countries’ National Determined Contributions (NDCs). We need to make sure parties make strong climate commitments at the COP26 Climate negotiations and for that Europe has to ensure shipping is fully integrated in any emissions reduction strategy.”
  • Hadewig Kras founder of citizens group ‘No dirty cruise ships in Antwerp’– “I come from Antwerp, one of the busiest ports in Europe. Last year over 15,000 Antwerpen citizens signed a petition calling for action on the pollution from ships. It’s time for the industry to pay for its pollution, not citizens. We need to make sure shipping is one of Europe’s Green Deal main priorities.”

  • Matt Mellen, Ecohustler – “The EU needs to sort its ships out. It’s not normal that shipping gets a free pass to pollute because regulators fail to address ships’ climate impact. So little has been done through the IMO to date, it’s urgent that Europe regulates shipping’s pollution.”
  • Captain Arjen van der Veen, Fairtransport Shipping – “Shipping is a major polluter because it’s not being properly regulated, it continues to burn untaxed dirty fuel and politicians are doing nothing to stop this. The polluters need to pay for the pollution and the money raised should be used to build clean ships. We’re ready to build zero emissions ships, we need regulators to push the market in that direction.”
  • Rene Visser, Member of XR Rotterdam - “We’re in a climate emergency, we should stop joking around and fix this problem. The IMO isn’t taking this seriously, they’re rejecting proposals to slow down ships, it is critical for Europe to take the lead and act now on shipping emissions”
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