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35 Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission

The shot caller of the new EU leadership has shipping greenhouse gas emissions in her sights. New European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has made no secret of her intention to include shipping in the EU's Emissions Trading System. If she gets her way , it could alter the course of the industry's decarbonisation trajectory

The new European Commission president will push the inclusion of shipping in the EU Emissions Trading System

TWO years after the European Union effectively postponed a decision to regulate shipping emissions until 2023, Ursula von der Leyen is not just restarting that discussion but has clearly taken a side.

While the International Maritime Organization tries to agree on what short-term decarbonisation measure it should impose, the new European Commission president is poised to slap a market-based measure on vessels using EU ports.

Coming in with heavily climate crisis-focused agenda, Ms von der Leyen has vowed to regulate shipping emissions by including it in the bloc’s EU Emissions Trading System, much to the detestation of shipowning interests and the IMO, which opposes regional regulation that may have such far-reaching implications.

Beyond the direst environmental impact, controlling emissions for vessels that move through EU waters and use EU ports would affect operating costs, chartering contracts, lending policy in shipping and insurance, among other elements. 

Operational and political implications aside, they could also accelerate the development of zero-carbon fuels, as burning carbon-based fuels will become more expensive, making alternatives more attractive. 

Simply put, Ms von der Leyen’s arrival could lead to the first major measure in the push to decarbonise shipping.

Whether this measure comes in 2020 will depend on the political will and the priorities of the new Commission in its first year.

Among the people to watch in Ms von der Leyen’s team are executive vice-president Frans Timmermans, who will be tasked with expanding the ETS to include shipping; and new transport commissioner Adina Valean. 

Aside from being expected to help out in placing shipping within the ETS, Ms Valean is also anticipated to deliver a sustainability strategy focused on increasing the uptake of sustainable and alternative transport fuels.

In other significant decisions next year, the Commission will have to choose whether to extend the Consortia Block Exemption Regulation that allows container carriers to enter into vessel-sharing agreements and is strongly opposed by shippers.

This is Ms von der Leyen’s first appearance in the Top 100. European Commissioners also featured in the Top 100 in 20102011201220132014201520162017 and 2018.


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