InterManager has called on the European Commission to adopt the polluter pays principle when drafting laws to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping in European waters. The organisation has stated that the proposed EU ETS legislation could be ineffective as it places the burden of emission reduction on ship management companies, rather than controlling polluting aspects of ship operations such as fuel, engines and ship speed. InterManager believes that such a policy reduces incentives for polluters to reduce emissions and is contrary to the polluter pays principle, a fundamental tenet of EU environmental legislation.
While InterManager is supportive of legislation aimed at decarbonising the shipping sector, it is concerned that the focus is on the wrong entities. Technical ship managers have little control over the key emissions-related components of a ship, such as speed and geographic location. Compliance and enforcement measures will be imposed on entities that neither pollute nor can influence polluters. InterManager advises that the default responsible party should be the one that controls the most emissions-related aspects.
InterManager Secretary General, Captain Kuba Szymanski, has commented that it would be ‘unfair’ to ask ship managers to bear the regulatory onus. Szymanski makes reference to the role of the ISM code, which emphasises how technical managers play a key role in ensuring ships operate safely. The environmental impact of shipping requires a focus on different fuels, engines and/ or lower speeds, components that are beyond the technical managers’ purview.
InterManager has urged the European Commission to draft regulation carefully to ensure that the target parties are properly focused and to ensure that the polluter pays principle is preserved. The revised EU ETS legislation, in its current form, would serve the interest of neither the shipowners nor the environment. InterManager opines that it is essential to channel the efforts of the European Commission in the right direction along with maintaining the polluter pays principle to safeguard the interest of all stakeholders.
While the shipping industry cannot ignore its obligations to reduce emissions, the legislation requires focus on the polluting party. Technical managers can only play a supportive role – they are not responsible, nor can their actions reduce emissions to a significant degree. By aligning themselves with the shipping industry’s ISM Code, InterManager is seeking to ensure that regulations for the sector remain safety-oriented and are complemented by technical tools that facilitate decarbonisation in the field.