World Shipping Council (WSC)

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Washington DC, United States
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Climate Lobbying Overview: The World Shipping Council (WSC) is lobbying climate change regulation globally and within the EU, with mixed engagement in 2020-22. The WSC appears to oppose the full inclusion of maritime emissions into the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), recommending that only intra-EEA journeys be included, and has consistently advocated for the creation of an R&D fund at the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: Website communications from WSC accessed in 2021 appear supportive of the IMO’s target of reducing total emissions from international shipping by at least 50% by 2050. WSC President, John Butler, also supported in October 2021 a move to zero emissions shipping without specifying a clearly defined time-frame, calling for this to happen “as fast as possible”. In November 2021, WSC further stated support for the EU’s Green Deal and 2050 targets. WSC appears to be unsupportive of stringent regional climate regulation on shipping. In a consultation response submitted to the EU in 2020, the company used its support for global carbon pricing measures at the IMO to oppose regional measures, emphasizing carbon leakage concerns. In comments submitted to a 2021 EU consultation, WSC further dismissed the benefits of national carbon pricing measures on maritime emissions, stating that “a global solution through the IMO is necessary to achieve a truly effective policy response that can reduce and phase out GHG emissions from maritime transport”. The association also stated that market-based measures like carbon pricing will not function efficiently without well-developed technical pathways for moving to zero carbon fuels, in a 2020 EU consultation response. However, in a March 2022 submission to the IMO, WSC appeared to advocate for market-based solutions on climate.

Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: According to a BBC News article published in April 2021, WSC supported a global carbon tax on maritime emissions, at an unspecified price. WSC further stated support for a global carbon price, without specifying a desired price, in a February 2022 submission to the IMO. However, the WSC appears to oppose the full inclusion of shipping in the EU ETS. In comments submitted to an EU consultation on August 2020, WSC opposed the inclusion of maritime emissions in the EU ETS, arguing that such an effort would preclude the creation of a potential global regime. However, in a November 2020 EU consultation, and a January 2022 press release, the WSC opposed the inclusion of emissions from outer-EEA journeys to the EU ETS, recommending that only intra-EEA journeys be included. In a February 2021 consultation response to the EU, the association suggested the inclusion of extraterritorial voyages to the EU ETS may be illegal, while also supporting free allowances for the sector. In April 2021, WSC President & CEO John Butler, testifying in the House Sub-Committee on Maritime Transport, lobbied for the United States “to engage with the EU to limit application of its ETS scheme to intra-EU maritime transportation”.

WSC appeared supportive of global energy efficiency measures, advocating to bring forward Phase 3 Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) standards to January 2022 from January 2025, and to increase the reduction factor range from 0-30% to 15-30% for smaller containerships, and from 30% to 35% for intermediate containerships, in a submission to the IMO on March 2019. However, in a February 2022 submission to the IMO, WSC appeared to advocate for regulatory measures to phase-out fossil-fuel powered ships, or phase-in zero-emissions ships over energy efficiency legislation. Regarding renewable energy policy, in February 2021, responding to an EU consultation, WSC supported the inclusion of minimum shares or quotas for low-carbon (rather than renewable or zero-emission) fuels in the EU Renewable Energy Directive, while also supporting an increase in the multipliers for renewable fuels consumed in the maritime and aviation sectors.

In October 2021, WSC published a position paper on the FuelEU Maritime Initiative, calling for its jurisdiction to be limited to voyages within ports under EU jurisdiction, and for any GHG intensity targets to be linked to the availability of suitable low GHG intensity fuels, suggesting support for weaker targets.

Positioning on Energy Transition: WSC’s engagement with the energy mix appears to focus on the establishment of a low-carbon fuel R&D fund at IMO level, which would identify the necessary fuel technology to decarbonize the maritime sector. WSC CEO, John Butler supported the establishment of such a fund in two press releases published in March 2021. The company has further called for the EU to make R&D focused on identifying and developing zero-carbon fuels as a key element of the 2030 Climate Target Plan, in an April 2020 and June 2020 consultation response.

In comments submitted to the EU consultation on the FuelEU Maritime initiative in September 2020, the association strongly opposed any mandate of minimum shares of renewable and low-carbon fuels. It also opposed the removal of the sales tax exemption for maritime fuels and the mandatory use of shore side electricity to reduce reliance of ships on fossil fuels, in an October 2020 response to a consultation on the EU’s Energy Taxation Directive. Additionally, in submission to a June 2020 EU consultation WSC appeared to oppose measures to electrify at-berth shore-side power, emphasizing cost concerns and the risk of stranded assets if ships transition to alternative power sources.

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