Shipping and net zero

Shipping and net zero

Environment analysis: Beth Bradley and Rachel Hoyland, partner and senior associate at Hill Dickinson, discuss the legal framework surrounding the decarbonisation of shipping, net zero shipping pledges and the impact of Brexit on decarbonising efforts.

What is the legal framework surrounding decarbonising of shipping? How much of the world’s emissions stem from shipping?

In 2018, 2.89% of the world’s human generated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions came from shipping with 1,076 million tonnes of emissions being produced by the industry, a 9.6% increase from the last reported position of 977 million tonnes in 2012 (the fourth International Maritime Organisation (IMO) GHG Study, August 2020).

At international level, decarbonisation of the shipping industry is regulated by the IMO, the division of the United Nations responsible for shipping. In 2018 the IMO set goals in relation to decarbonisation of the industry and adopted an Initial Strategy to accomplish its aims. It is now developing regulations which will drive the industry to meet those goals. However, while shipping is often excluded from national level regulations on the basis that it is a global industry, there is nothing to stop states developing their own decarbonisation goals and regulations applicable within their territories and to ships flying their flag.

Indeed, the EU recently voted to include shipping emissions in the EU ETS, meaning that, from 1 January 2022, many ships calling in the EEA to load or discharge cargo or passengers will be obliged to pay for CO2 emitted. This is a decision which has been welcomed in some quarters, on the basis that it will accelerate decarbonisation of the industry, and criticised in others, on the basis that it may undermine internationally co-ordinated efforts to regulate emissions

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