NGOs Call Upon EU to Effectively Regulate Shipping Pollution

Image: NGO Shipbreaking Platform

By Aiswarya Lakshmi

From dangerous emissions in ports to hazardous
scrapping on South Asian beaches, European shipping companies
pollute and put people's health and lives at serious risk.

In light of the ongoing European Shipping Week and the failure of
the International Maritime Organisation to find solutions,
environmental experts are ringing the alarm bell and calling upon
European policy makers to urgently adopt policies that
effectively target the environmental performance of shipping.

"Every year approximately 50,000 people in the EU die prematurely
because of air pollution from ships. While all land-based sources
have been gradually regulated in recent years we still face a
lack of effective emissions control measures for ships," says
Daniel Rieger from NABU.

Burning heavy fuel without any exhaust gas aftertreatment systems
is shockingly still standard practice on open sea, despite both
regulatory and technical means at hand to limit the threat to
human health, environment and global climate caused by such
shipping emissions.

The EU must take a lead by designating all its waters as emission
control areas for ship born sulphur, nitrogen and particle
emissions. Such a step would not only lead to a significant
uptake of cleaner fuels but also enable the use of particulate
filters and nitrogen catalysts, therefore reducing air pollution
levels in port cities and along shipping routes significantly.

The EU must also back the growing calls for an international ban
on the use of heavy fuel oil by Arctic shipping by 2020.

Shipping mind-bogglingly remains the only sector of the economy
not contributing to EU climate targets and yet it is
uncontestably an industry responsible for emitting significant
amounts of CO2.

Forecasts show EU-related ship CO2 emissions will increase by 86%
in 2050 compared to 1990 levels. By 2050, international shipping
could be responsible for 17% of global CO2 emissions if left
unregulated.

Environmental NGOs therefore welcome that the European Parliament
has decided to include shipping in the EU Maritime Climate
Fund/ETS from 2023 if the International Maritime Organisation
(IMO) fails to deliver on a global deal.

"The IMO has so far failed to give a credible response to the
Paris agreement's call for urgent action. The EU ETS will provide
important leverage to ensure that the IMO finally delivers what
it promised under its own roadmap. EU governments must now follow
the European Parliament's lead and agree that ship CO2 emissions
must go in the EU ETS if the IMO does not act," says Faig Abbasov
from T&E.

Devastating human and environmental impacts are also caused by
ships at the end of their operational life. European ship owners
shamefully continue to top the list of companies that sell their
ships for dirty and dangerous scrapping on beaches in South Asia.

A new EU law aims to ensure that EU-flagged ships are recycled in
EU-approved facilities. However, in a system where owners can
easily swap the flag of their ship and where all vessels sold to
South Asia pass through the hands of cash-buyers - middle men
specialising in hazardous waste trafficking - legislation based
on flag state jurisdiction will be easy to circumvent.

"The scandalous shipbreaking practices of European shipping
companies can only be stopped through measures that go beyond
flag state jurisdiction. That is why we call on the EU to demand
a ship recycling licence from all vessels visiting EU ports,"
says Ingvild Jenssen of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform. "EU
policies need to hit where it hurts. Profits made by exploiting
workers and poor environmental law enforcement in South Asia is
dirty money."

International shipping laws rest on enforcement by flags of
convenience, such as those of Panama and Liberia and Paris MoU
grey- and black listed flags at end-of-life.

Solutions to curb dirty shipping will need to be ascertained by
the EU. Since it controls 40% of the world fleet and is a major
trading destination, there is no reason why the EU should be
timid in this role.

Feb 28, 2017

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