The EU is reforming its transport policy; emissions trading to be extended to maritime transport sector


Emission reductions from maritime transport are an important goal which the Confederation of Finnish Industries support. It must be pursued cost-effectively and taking into account the geographical specificities of Finland.

The European Commission published its Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy today. Transport now accounts for a quarter of EU emissions. The new strategy’s goal is to bring down transport emissions by 90 percent by 2050 — a key part of the EU’s Green Deal target of becoming climate neutral by mid-century. The Mobility Strategy includes 80 policies under 10 flagship proposals to be developed by 2024.

One interesting initiative in the Mobility Strategy is related to maritime transport. The main idea of ​​the Commission’s transport policy is to extend the “user or polluter pays” principle to all modes of transport. The Commission intends to propose the inclusion of shipping in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme in 2021. In practice, this would apply to maritime traffic at least in intra-EU routes or possibly, more broadly, to maritime traffic to and from outside Europe.

Finland’s exports are strongly dependent on sea freight

Finnish industries support the EU’s goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050. Clean and cost-effective transport should be promoted, and common rules applied in all modes of transport.

Regarding the planned inclusion of maritime transport in the EU’s Emissions Trading System, the following aspects should be remembered:

  •  Including shipping in EU’s emissions trading system would be a big step towards carbon pricing. At the same time, however, it is important to carry out a proper impact assessment in the preparatory work. It is in the interests of both the climate and sustainable business that emission reductions can be implemented cost-effectively. Maritime transport is already the lowest emitting transport mode.
  • Our foreign trade is highly dependent on maritime transport. It is therefore important that Finland’s geographical and logistical specificities are considered in the preparation. If the maritime cargo expenses increase, there is a risk of carbon leakage should the industry production move to the third countries. There could also be an increase in transport emissions if there would be a shift of transport mode from the sea to road.
  • During the winters, we need ice-reinforced ships, whose year-round use increases energy consumption and emissions. This should be taken into account so that the competitive position of companies is not distorted by winter conditions.
  • At the same time, the EU, through the International Maritime Organization (IMO), must work for the gradual expansion of maritime emissions trading to the rest of the world. The IMO’s goal should be a global emissions trading system that would ensure a level playing field globally.

The Commission’s new Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy contains dozens of other interesting targets such as getting 30 million electric cars on the road by the end of the decade, doubling rail passenger traffic and investing in sustainable alternative fuels and cleantech.

EU’s Mobility Strategy