More efforts needed globally to reduce emissions from shipping, say MEPs

european parliament logoThe Environment Committee expresses concern with insufficient progress in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to reduce emissions from the maritime sector internationally.

On Thursday, the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee debated the reduction of emissions from the maritime sector with Mrs Adina-Ioana Vălean, European Commissioner for Transport.

Commissioner Vălean briefed Members on the most recent developments in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) concerning the 75th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (IMO MEPC 75) which will take place online 16 – 20 November 2020.

The Commissioner underlined the high ambition of the EU and the importance of leading by example but she also said that since the maritime sector is a global sector, long-term solutions will also have to be found globally. She lowered expectations for the upcoming MEPC75 partly because it will be difficult to achieve progress in online meetings and said she did not expect major progress in the next 6-12 months by the main global players postponing important decisions to MEPC 76 in 2021.

Several MEPs repeated their disappointment by the insufficient progress in the IMO to reduce emissions from shipping. They have previously also requested the Commission to examine the overall environmental integrity of the measures decided upon by the IMO, including the targets under the Paris Agreement.

Several MEPs welcomed the Commissioners confirmation that it will propose to include shipping in the EU ETS as requested by Parliament while others requested clarification on how the Commission intends to improve energy efficiency for the maritime sector.

Parliament’s participation in IMO MEPC

A delegation from the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee has traditionally participated in the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee. Although MEPC 75 will take place online, several MEPs will continue to follow outcome of the conference closely, with a particular emphasis on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships, energy efficiency of ships, air pollution prevention and marine plastic litter from ships.


In September, Parliament welcomed the Commission’s proposal to revise the EU system for monitoring, reporting and verifying CO2 emissions from maritime transport (the “EU MRV Regulation”) and bring it in line with new obligations under International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to monitor emissions from 2019 and report in 2020. They however also called for more ambition and voted to include ships of 5000 gross tonnage and above in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) and to introduce binding requirements for shipping companies to reduce their annual average CO2 emissions per transport work, for all their ships, by at least 40% by 2030.

Maritime transport remains the only sector with no specific EU commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Global shipping activity emits significant amounts of GHG emissions, estimated to be around 2-3% of total global GHG emissions. This is more than the emissions of any EU member state. In 2017 in the EU, 13 % of total EU greenhouse gas emissions from transport came from the maritime sector.