Europe´s ports express their con­cern about first signs of car­bon and busi­ness leaka­ke ahead of the start of the EU ETS for the mari­ti­me sector

As part of the implementation process of the EU emission trading system (ETS) directive for the maritime sector, the Commission held a public consultation on the list of non-EU neighbouring ports that would fall under the “transhipment clause” that has been introduced in the directive intended to limit the risks of carbon and business leakage once the EU ETS maritime comes into force.

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In its rep­ly to the con­sul­ta­ti­on, the Euro­pean Sea Ports Orga­ni­sa­ti­on (ESPO) rei­te­ra­tes its sup­port for an emis­si­on tra­ding sche­me as instru­ment for gree­ning the ship­ping sec­tor, but expres­ses its serious con­cern about first signs of car­bon and busi­ness leaka­ge due to the limi­t­ed scope of the cur­rent legislation.

For ESPO, the prin­ci­ple to not con­sider as a “port of call”, in the coun­ting of the ETS char­ges, the calls to some tran­ship­ment ports neigh­bou­ring the EU is only a par­ti­al solu­ti­on to the pro­blem. ESPO ful­ly agrees with the iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on of Tan­ger Med and East Port Said as major neigh­bou­ring tran­ship­ments ports. Howe­ver, it will not be enough to ensu­re that eva­si­on can­not take place. While only a few neigh­bou­ring ports are rea­ching the very high tran­ship­ment volu­me thres­holds put for­ward in the legis­la­ti­on (65%), many ports and ter­mi­nals around Euro­pe have and/or are buil­ding up tran­ship­ment capa­ci­ty. The Com­mis­si­on should the­r­e­fo­re not only look at cur­rent volu­mes, but also con­sider the tran­ship­ment capa­ci­ty in the dif­fe­rent ports neigh­bou­ring the EU.

Moreo­ver, under the cur­rent legis­la­ti­on, even if the call at a non-EU tran­ship­ment port is sub­ject to the spe­cial regime, it is still more favoura­ble for ships to call at a non-EU port than at an EU tran­ship­ment port. When ships call at an EU tran­ship­ment port, the last leg bet­ween the tran­ship­ment port and any other EU port is sub­ject to ETS char­ges for 100% of the jour­ney. On the other hand, if the ships call at a non-EU tran­ship­ment port, only 50% of the jour­ney is accoun­ted for.

“We see a real ram­ping up of invest­ments in addi­tio­nal TEU capa­ci­ty in ports and new ter­mi­nals in neigh­bou­ring count­ries, inclu­ding invest­ments rea­li­sed by major ship­ping lines in the­se ports, and we also hear about first rerou­ting move­ments out­side Euro­pe. This rein­forces the idea that ship­ping lines, whe­re rele­vant, are pre­pa­ring their way out of the EU ETS mari­ti­me. We reco­g­ni­se the importance of the EU ETS Direc­ti­ve and sup­ports its aim, but we con­ti­nue to reg­ret that this legis­la­ti­ve frame­work dis­ad­van­ta­ges EU ports vis-à-vis non-EU ports, wit­hout the expec­ted bene­fit in terms of emis­si­on reduc­tion”, stres­ses Zeno D’A­gos­ti­no, Chair­man of ESPO.

For the mari­ti­me EU ETS to be a suc­cess, the Euro­pean Com­mis­si­on must make sure that the ETS imple­men­ta­ti­on safe­guards the com­pe­ti­ti­ve­ness of Euro­pean ports, and avo­ids car­bon and busi­ness leaka­ge to ports neigh­bou­ring the EU.

For Europe’s ports, moni­to­ring should alre­a­dy take place ahead of the appli­ca­ti­on date, as rerou­ting and eva­si­on move­ments are alre­a­dy in pre­pa­ra­ti­on or hap­pe­ning now. Moreo­ver, the moni­to­ring should hap­pen con­ti­nuous­ly, not only with a report every two years.

“One must rea­li­se, that once eva­si­on is estab­lished, and tra­ding rou­tes have chan­ged, it will be very dif­fi­cult to rever­se the nega­ti­ve deve­lo­p­ments”, says Isa­bel­le Ryck­bost, ESPO Secre­ta­ry General.

While it is dif­fi­cult to pro­ve a direct cau­sal link bet­ween cer­tain rerou­ting and deve­lo­p­ments of ter­mi­nals out­side the EU, the level and inten­si­ty of recent deve­lo­p­ments in non-EU ports streng­then the con­cern of many Euro­pean affec­ted ports on the pos­si­ble adver­se effect of the EU ETS wit­hout the expec­ted envi­ron­men­tal bene­fit. On top of losing tran­ship­ment capa­ci­ty and the cor­re­spon­ding jobs, Euro­pe risks losing over­sight and con­trol of the enti­re sup­p­ly chain.

Given the cur­rent situa­ti­on and deve­lo­p­ments and the serious con­se­quen­ces of the imple­men­ta­ti­on of this legis­la­ti­on for the com­pe­ti­ti­ve­ness and future of some Euro­pean ports, ESPO hopes for an open, con­ti­nuous and con­s­truc­ti­ve dia­lo­gue with the Com­mis­si­on allo­wing to map adver­se impacts and signal eva­si­on at a very ear­ly stage, in view of achie­ving an ETS that deli­vers the ambi­ti­ons it has been desi­gned for.



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