A letter to the editor of "New Europe" by Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard
In reference to your article 'EU Allows Maritime Pollution Until 2050' on 1 May 2011, let me get the facts right. It is simply wrong to claim that the Commission is not serious about tackling greenhouse gas emissions from ships. Along with the EU Member States we are the most active in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the UN Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC), actively participating in all sessions and working groups, raising this topic and proposing targets and solutions. There is so much potential to reduce emissions, stimulate technological developments and reduce fuel bills that it would be irresponsible not to take action.
We firmly believe a global agreement would be the best way to tackle this global issue. After years of delay it is high time agreement is reached this year in IMO and UNFCCC to bring international maritime transport emissions into greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments. One of the most imminent measures to be adopted is an Energy Efficiency Design Index - it is a first measure which will have a long term impact on CO2 emissions from newbuild ships. The European Commission together with the EU Member States is actively promoting the adoption of the index. If this is not done the EU will examine ways of acting.
Given the difficulty to progress at the UN level the European Commission has included a possible proposal in its Work Programme for 2012 and we are now making the necessary preparations. No conclusions are drawn at this stage.
However, we are engaged in substantial consultations with all relevant stakeholders. Together with Vice-President Kallas, in charge of Transport, I will be meeting with a broad range of stakeholders, including industry leaders on the 24th May and we regularly raise this issue with third countries. A series of stakeholder consultations is also taking place with the next meeting scheduled for the 22nd and 23rd June. This work means that the European Commission can be ready and able to act if needed.
European Commissioner for Climate Action