EU ETS Catalyst or Change, Mired In Growing Pains


  • The European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) continues to pose challenges for stakeholders in the shipping industry, sparking discussions on compliance, alternative fuels adoption, and unintended consequences.
  • At the Baltic Exchange’s Freight Forum in Singapore, a panel explored the complexities and opportunities of the EU ETS.

Martin Crawford-Brunt highlighted the paradigm shift in regulation towards goal-based standards, posing challenges for organizations like the IMO. Ian Butler from Vitol sees the ETS as a driver for compliance and the adoption of alternative fuels, despite acknowledging the administrative burden it brings.

Sector-Specific Challenges

Susana Germino from Swire Shipping/Swire Bulk and Toby Forrest from Pavilion Energy raised concerns about the applicability of ETS regulations to dry bulk and LNG shipping, respectively. Dry bulk operators find it challenging to adapt to regulations designed for container shipping, while LNG ship owners face complexities regarding ballast voyages outside the EU zone.

Unintended Consequences

Germino highlighted challenges with bareboat charters where the charterer lacks control over ETS obligations, leading to potential friction between contracting parties. Butler raised credit risk concerns for technical managers responsible for vessel operations but lacking control over ETS costs.

Rising Costs and Education Needs

Forrest pointed to increasing financial burdens as the ETS reaches full implementation in 2026, impacting freight rates and supply chain costs. Germino emphasized the misconception that ETS fees only apply during cargo discharge, highlighting the need for industry-wide education on the nuances of ETS regulations.

Call for Collaboration

The panel concluded with a call for collaboration among regulators, industry players, and financial institutions to address the challenges posed by the EU ETS effectively. Clear, sector-specific regulations and enhanced education are crucial for navigating the evolving regulatory landscape while achieving environmental goals without stifling industry growth.

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Source: Baltic Exchange