Ship traffic to or from ports in the European Economic Area accounts for some 11% of all EU CO2 emissions from transport and 3-4% of total EU CO2 emissions. The European Commission published a new proposal for EU regulations to encourage the use of sustainable fuels in shipping – namely the FuelEU Maritime initiatives.

The FuelEU Maritime initiative aims to increase the use of sustainable alternative fuels in European shipping and ports by addressing market barriers that hamper their use and uncertainty about which technical options are market-ready. It continues the approach already promoted by the 2016 Low Emission Mobility Strategy. It outlines a clear pathway for the maritime sector to deliver the projections in the Commission’s long-term vision for a
prosperous, modern, competitive and climate-neutral economy by 2050 as well as the strategic orientations of
Horizon Europe.

The initiative is also in line with the global strategy for the reduction of GHG emissions from ships by the International Maritime Organization, which includes measures to support the development and uptake of low- and
zero-carbon alternative fuels. It is also the first concrete step to bring the maritime sector in line with the European ambition of climate neutrality by 2050. It will build on the impact assessment that the Commission plans to present by summer 2020 to increase the EU’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target for 2030 to at least 50% and towards 55 % compared to 1990 levels.

The initiative should take a well-to-wake approach, concerning emissions from production and use of these fuels,
including methane slip. Given the contribution of shipping to air pollution in ports, the initiative should also look at options to reduce emissions at berth, in particular through the use of shore-side electricity. Both for use of electricity while at berth and for charging ship batteries, this should have a positive impact on the uptake of electricity-powered ships. When assessing the policy options, objectives will include to:

  • Enhance predictability, facilitate the planning of investments and prevent a ‘wait and see’ attitude by
    providing greater certainty to the sector and setting a clear pathway for decarbonising the current marine
    fuel mix;
  • Stimulate production on a larger scale and reduce the price gap with current fuels and technologies, by boosting the uptake of technologically mature sustainable alternative fuels and technologies;
  • Boost demand from ship operators to bunker alternative fuels or connect to the electric grid while at berth and solve the interdependency issue, complementing existing supply-side measures and
    facilitating the rollout of infrastructure and investments in the production and deployment of sustainable
    alternative fuels in maritime transport;
  • Avoid carbon leakage, by imposing obligations on all ships trading in the EU and calling EU ports, and eliminating any possible regulatory advantage derived by bunkering fuels outside the EU. Address at the same time the ‘split incentives’ issue through requirements on performance.

The proposal applies to all ships above 5,000 tonnes, with the exception of warships, fish-catching or fish-processing ships, government ships, and primitive wooden and non-mechanical ships. The proposal is open for feedback until 5 October 2021.

Source: European Commission