US legislators propose bills to cut emissions from ships in ports.

US Proposes Legislation to Tax Marine Carbon Fuels and Port Emissions
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Legislation proposed by members of the US Senate and House of Representatives would seek to reduce emissions from ships traveling to and from US ports and operating within the ports. The International Maritime Pollution Accountability Act, which would levy a fee on large ships entering US waters, has been introduced alongside the Clean Shipping Act of 2023, which sets carbon intensity standards in line with the Paris Climate Agreement pathway for decarbonisation. The bills, launched with the help of lawmakers including Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Senator Alex Padilla, have been proposed following the European Union’s FuelEU Maritime initiative.

The Clean Shipping Act of 2023 will direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set increasingly tighter carbon intensity standards on fuel used by ships approaching US ports, with the aims of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. The bill sets out a 1.5°C decarbonisation pathway, with a requirement to reduce carbon dioxide-equivalent reductions by 20% from 2027, 45% from 2030, 80% from 2035, and 100% from 2040. The draft law also imposes requirements to regulate shipping emissions at US ports and authorize the EPA to study the impact of publicly funded port trucks on air quality.

The International Maritime Pollution Accountability Act requires that large marine vessels over 10,000 gross tons offloading cargo at US ports would be levied with a pollution fee. Due to the legislation’s size threshold, most domestic shipping would be excluded, with the charge being placed solely on the international industry. The proposed bill would impose a $150 per ton fee on the carbon emissions of the fuel burned on the inbound trip, as well as rates for pollutants such as nitrogen oxides ($6.30/lb.), sulfur dioxide ($18/lb.), and particle pollution ($38.90/lb.). It is estimated that these charges would raise roughly $250 billion over the course of a decade, providing necessary funding for the maritime sector’s decarbonisation efforts.

The proposed bills seek to support the call-to-action that the International Maritime Organization instituted to reduce worldwide ship emissions by at least 50% by 2050 over their 2008 levels. The bills are in line with critics’ recommendations of the IMO who have warned that countries would begin adopting their laws setting their standards if the IMO doesn’t advance its pollution controls first.

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the IMO said last month it would consider proposals to bring forward the start date for the technical and operational measures that form the initial International Maritime Organization’s greenhouse gas reduction strategy.

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