Emissions trading on track for approval
Supporters of emissions trading are confident the mechanism will be given approval by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) when its environment committee meets in April.
"Its on the agenda. We are confident that emissions trading will be included in the wording of MARPOL Annex VI," said Don Gregory, Environment and Sustainability Director at BP Marine and a current member of SEAaT's Executive Committee.
SEAaT, which stands for Shipping Emissions Abatement and Trading, is a cross-industry lobby group set up to promote alternative ways of cutting ship emissions.
It has championed emissions trading as the most cost effective way of achieving high levels of compliance as shipping faces tougher and tougher emissions standards.
"Once the wording is in place there will be no reason not to adopt the use of the concept," Gregory told Bunkerworld.
He explained that the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) would essentially be "ticking the box" to allow emissions trading to be recognised as an option.
It would then be up to industry stakeholders to approach national governments to set up an emissions trading structure and then to convince players to use it.
Once in place, he said, SEAaT would be able to oversee the development of rules for the system and ensure it wasn't open to abuse. Supporters of emissions trading say it provides market incentives to cut emissions and is the most efficient way of ensuring players meet new restrictions on emissions.
There has been disappointment that the Sulphur Emissions Control Areas (SECAs) already in place in North European waters were introduced without provision for ship operators to trade emission credits.
Gregory said compliance with the SECA regulations might have been higher had an emissions trading regime been in operation. Emissions trading has been discussed for shipping as a way of complying with sulphur oxide (SOx) emission restrictions, but Gregory said it could be expanded to include greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions trading is already used by land-based industries to meet emissions targets.
MARPOL Annex VI is the protocol designed to reduce air pollution from ships. It is currently under review by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).