Photo: 149816317 © Michele Ursi |

The EU reached a political agreement on Sunday on important legislative proposals of the ‘Fit for 55’ package, and agreed to include maritime shipping emissions within the scope of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). Under the new agreement, shipping companies are “obliged to surrender allowances for verified emissions”. In other words, companies will need to pay for shipping emissions.

The agreement on the EU Emissions Trading System, which on Sunday was extended to shipping, is key to the European Union’s bid to become the world’s first carbon-neutral continent. The Council and Parliament agreed on a gradual introduction of obligations for shipping companies to surrender allowances: 40% for verified emissions from 2024, 70% for 2025 and 100% for 2026.

Most large vessels will be included in the scope of the EU ETS from the start. Big offshore vessels of over 5000 gross tonnage and above, will be included in the ‘MRV regulation’ on the monitoring, reporting and verification of CO2 emissions from maritime transport regulation from 2025 and in the EU ETS from 2027. General cargo vessels and off-shore vessels, between 400-5 000 gross tonnage, will be included in the MRV regulation from 2025, and their inclusion in EU ETS will be reviewed in 2026.

In addition, the agreement takes into account geographical specificities, and proposes transitional measures for small islands, ice class ships, and journeys relating to outermost regions and public service obligations, and strengthens measures to combat the risk of evasion in the maritime sector.

Certain member states, with a relatively high number of shipping companies, will in addition receive 3.5% of the ceiling of the auctioned allowances to be distributed among them.

The co-legislators agreed to include non-CO2 emissions (methane and N2O) in the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) regulation from 2024 and in the EU ETS from 2026.

It is worth mentioning that the deal on EU emissions trading system and the Social Climate Fund is provisional pending formal adoption, in both the Council and the European Parliament.