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CO2 emissions: no European Commission alignment decision before the second half of 2017

Date: 21/12/2016

The European Commission is now preparing a "roadmap" laying down options for aligning European Union CO2 legislation with the global system under study in the International Maritime Organization.

This document will lead to a tender and the appointment of consultants whose job it will be to assess the various alignment options. The consultants' work will feed into a Commission impact study, which is required prior to the publication of draft legislation designed to bring the existing EU emissions reporting scheme in line with the IMO's.The final decision on alignment will however not be made before the second half of 2017 at the earliest because details of the IMO scheme are still not complete. IMO guidelines on verifying ships' CO2 emissions will not be finalised before the next IMO marine environment protection committee meeting, which is due to take place in either May or July 2017. Officially, the Commission has a number of options, including rejecting the IMO scheme as insufficiently robust. The outcome of October's MEPC meeting disappointed Brussels officials because unlike the EU, the IMO will not publish data collected.

Shipowners will, under the IMO scheme, be eligible for certificates of compliance after reporting emissions data to their flag state administration rather than the central database, unlike the EU scheme, which introduces direct reporting. Brussels officials believe this is a potential weakness of the IMO scheme, as there is no guarantee that the flag state will pass on the data, and no enforcement mechanism foreseen. The Commission has also criticised IMO data sets on ships' cargo.Despite these doubts, the Commission is leaning towards alignment. "The existing legislation foresees alignment," says one source, referring to the EU Regulation on monitoring, reporting and verifying (MRV) of CO2 emissions. "We will have to look at the bigger picture and ask ourselves if a global approach is more effective."

Without alignment, two incompatible CO2 data collection systems will simultaneously exist, creating an administrative burden for ship operators trading with the EU. The EU scheme will in any case enter into force in 2018. A decision to align will trigger a Commission proposal that will require approval of the Brussels institutions, which could take years.In related news, the Commission has published a standardised template to be used by operators which are required to draw up "monitoring plans" under MRV. In separate implementing legislation, the Commission has laid down rules for the "cargo carried" data sets, which vary according to ship type.

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