World Shipping Council (WSC)

InfluenceMap Score
for Climate Policy Engagement
Performance Band
Organization Score
Washington DC, United States
Official Web Site:

Climate Lobbying Overview: The World Shipping Council (WSC) is lobbying climate change regulation globally and within the EU, with mixed engagement in 2021-23. 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 position paper published in October 2022, the WSC stated that EU climate regulation would benefit from an intra-EU scope as it would minimise carbon leakages and protect competitiveness. 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”. WSC further stated support for a global carbon price, without specifying a desired price, in a February 2022 submission to the IMO. In a March 2022 submission to the IMO, WSC appeared to advocate for a global market-based measure to achieve GHG reductions from ships.

Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: The WSC has been supportive of a carbon tax, with WSC President John Butler calling for the IMO to adopt a global GHG levy on ships, without specifying a desired price, in a December 2022 press release. However, the association appears to oppose the full inclusion of shipping in the EU ETS. In a November 2021 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”. A senior WSC executive appeared to support the agreement on the extension of the EU ETS, but also stated that it needs to be ‘coherent with global GHG pricing under negotiation at the IMO, in a December 2022 LinkedIn article.

In a February 2022 submission to the IMO, the association appeared to advocate for regulatory measures to phase-out fossil-fuel powered ships, or phase-in zero-emissions ships over energy efficiency legislation. It also opposed energy efficiency benchmarks in favor of GHG emissions-based legislation in an August 2022 submission. 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 intra-EU voyages, and for any GHG intensity targets to be linked to the availability of suitable low GHG intensity fuels. However, it appeared to support the deal reached on the proposal in a March 2023 Euractiv article.

Positioning on Energy Transition: WSC is supportive of transitioning the shipping sector to alternative fuels, but has advocated for hydrogen produced using fossil fuels and opposed EU mandates for e-fuels. The association has generally supported the increased use of alternative fuels and the transition to zero-emissions shipping, without specifying the timeframe to achieve such a transition, in its corporate website (accessed in April 2022). It also supported the usage of renewably produced marine fuels, including e-fuels, blue hydrogen/ammonia and biofuels, in a paper submitted to the IMO in October 2022. However, the association has also suggested that hydrogen produced using fossil fuels without clear conditions for CCS is desirable for shipping in the short-term, in an earlier February 2022 submission.

In an October 2021 position paper on the FuelEU Maritime initiative, it opposed mandating the use of on-shore power supply, calling instead for ships to be ‘ready’ for on-shore electricity. It further advocated against the addition of e-fuels sub-mandates in the proposal by the EU Parliament, in a 2022 Euractiv article.

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