Ship spewing pollution in Nicaragua Photo 136213646 © Birdiegal717

Shipping, forwarding and environmental groups have welcomed the world’s first law requiring ships to use sustainable fuel.

Following agreement by the European Parliament and Council yesterday, the FuelEU Maritime law will force shipping to use green fuels from 2025, with a review of the legislation due in 2028.

“FuelEU Maritime will help decarbonise the maritime transport sector by setting maximum limits on the yearly greenhouse gas intensity of the energy used by a ship,” said the EC.

In addition, the regulation will require containerships to use onshore power, or an zero-emission alternative, while at a berth to protect local communities.

Greenhouse gas reduction will begin with a 2% decline from 2025, with a 6% reduction by 2030, rising to 14.5% in 2035, 31% from 2040 and 62% and 80% in 2045 and 2050, respectively.

FuelEU is the second element of the EU’s plan to decarbonise maritime transport, following the agreement to add maritime to its Emissions Trading System last year.

Jim Corbett, the World Shipping Council’s environmental director in Europe, said: “I am pleased to see that the regulation will evaluate fuels on their GHG performance across their full lifecycle. the WSC worked with the parties for an effective, technology neutral regulation that will help drive the supply of alternative fuels and ensure real reductions in GHG emissions.”

Freight forwarder representative, Nicolette van der Jagt, director general at Clecat, told The Loadstar: “This is an important step towards the decarbonisation of shipping via the increased uptake of renewable and low-carbon fuels. It will ensure that the shipping sector will deliver on climate targets and progressively ceases to be dependent on highly polluting heavy fuel oil.”

She added: “The agreement now gives some clear guidance to the maritime sector and to suppliers on the fuels that may be used.”

In agreeing with Clecat Mr Corbett said: “FuelEU Maritime helps bring that demand to scale in Europe. [Yesterday]’s agreement provides shipping companies [with] the needed clarity to move beyond first mover innovation and leadership, and to make further investments to support the transition to zero GHG fuels.”

He said liner shipping had already made inroads into meeting its climate goals and was looking to drive demand for low- and zero-carbon fuels.

In a rare incidence of accord between shipping and environmental groups, Transport & Environment’s (T&E) sustainable shipping officer, Delphine Gozillon, said: “The decision marks the beginning of the end of dirty fuels in shipping. The EU is charting the way with the most ambitious package of green shipping laws ever adopted. This success should inspire other countries to do the same.”

Even so, T&E cautioned that there were few options currently in terms of sustainable fuels for deepsea shipping and that “loopholes” in the legislation “risk letting biofuels and low-carbon fuels in the backdoor”. The environmental campaign group has called on the EU to “fix these” when it revises the law in 2028.

Moreover, shippers have voiced concerns that carbon charging by the lines could be introduced via the International Maritime Organization before the lines have pay those charges themselves. This legisalation should go some way to alleviating those fears.

However, not all those in the maritime sector were enthused. DNV CEO of maritime Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen told the CMA conference in the US “new fuels and infrastructure will be late and in short supply”. He said he didn’t think the industry needed to reduce its ambition to decarbonise, but rather seemed to plug LNG, adding: “it’s really important that we do what can be done now, rather than wait for some fantastic fuel in the future.”

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