Ahead Of MEPC81, Belgian Shipowners Once Again Make The Case For A Global Maritime Pricing Mechanism

In the coming week, the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 81) will meet to address the complex challenge of decarbonising the maritime industry. Surprisingly, amidst the multitude of proposed measures, the simplest solution may yet hold the key to effective decarbonization: implementing a global price on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, argues the Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association (KBRV).

“A global GHG pricing mechanism offers a straightforward and powerful incentive for the industry to transition towards decarbonization, aligning with the fundamental principle of “polluter pays,’” says KBRV’s Head of Environmental & Technical Affairs, Celine Audenaerdt. “By internalizing the cost of emissions, this measure encourages companies to invest in cleaner technologies and practices and drive meaningful reductions in carbon output.”

With the maritime industry advocating against mechanisms that impose significant administrative burdens on both business and authorities, the absence of a global maritime GHG pricing mechanism may lead to a fragmented landscape of local and regional pricing mechanisms, each with its own complexities and challenges.

“While concerns about negative impacts on trade have been cited as rationales for opposing a global pricing mechanism, the reality is that a scattered array of economic measures is even more detrimental. It risks disrupting established trade patterns, introducing uncertainties for shipping companies, and potentially distorting market dynamics,” she continues.

It is therefore crucial for all stakeholders at the coming MEPC 81 to recognize the global GHG pricing mechanism as a streamlined and effective solution. By embracing a unified approach, the maritime industry can avoid the pitfalls of fragmentation, ensure fairness and equity in emissions reduction efforts, and pave the way for a more sustainable future for global shipping.

Belgian shipowners also argue that the global maritime GHG pricing mechanism should be the cornerstone of the industry’s decarbonization strategy. By prioritizing simplicity, effectiveness, and global cooperation, stakeholders can chart a course towards meaningful emissions reductions while safeguarding the economic vitality of maritime trade and a global level playing field.

Carl-Antoine Saverys, CEO of Exmar, states why he and other Belgian shipowners warn against a fragmented landscape of different rules:

“The shipping industry, being inherently global, presents a unique opportunity for transformative advancements. It is crucial that regulations are harmonized globally to ensure a fair and level playing field. By addressing the risk of creating a fragmented fleet with varying environmental standards, there is an opportunity to drive positive change. Aligning with the IMO’s efforts to establish universal regulations that incentivize sustainability can lead to significant progress in decarbonizing the global fleet and catalyzing positive transformations within our industry.”

Before the last MEPC meeting, Belgian shipowners have already made the call for a global fuel pricing mechanism. They are once again making the same request in view of the urgent need for climate action: a global GHG pricing mechanism stands out as the most pragmatic and transformative step towards a greener maritime industry.

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