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Greek owners say European ETS push must be thwarted

Owners’ leader Theodore Veniamis says emissions trading not the answer, while he urges government to act to halt the decline of the Greek flag. His remarks come within days of the International Chamber of Shipping and BIMCO outlining their opposition to the same proposal

Union of Greek Shipowners looks to next month’s meeting of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee for ‘positive developments’ towards thwarting the commission’s ETS ambitions

GREEK shipowners have called for opposition at the International Maritime Organization to rebut a European push to include shipping in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

The ETS proposal, formally included in the new Green Deal announced last December by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, is rejected by the maritime industry as a whole, said Theodore Veniamis, president of the Union of Greek Shipowners.

The remarks, made in a speech to the UGS’ annual general assembly, come within days of the International Chamber of Shipping and BIMCO outlining their opposition to the same proposal.

An ETS was not suited to shipping as an industry and was branded “dishonest” by Mr Veniamis, since it supported the principle that “whoever pays can continue to pollute”.

Mr Veniamis said that EU “pressure” threatened progress at the IMO towards the longer-term goal of decarbonisation. He said that the industry defended the IMO’s primary role in regulating the industry, which was free of “distortions and baseless initiatives that are aimed solely at political ends”.

The UGS hoped that next month’s meeting of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee would result in “positive developments” towards thwarting the commission’s ETS ambitions, but he did not elaborate.

Though negativity towards an ETS for shipping appears widespread in the industry, the view of Greek owners is particularly significant as, according to the UGS, they control more than 54% of European tonnage, as well as more than 20% of global capacity.

The UGS has thrown its weight behind a new research and development fund to be paid for by the industry to explore innovative technology and non-fossil fuels, which Mr Veniamis called the “ultimate solution” to decarbonising shipping in line with IMO targets.

He disclosed that the UGS’ governing council has just formally endorsed Greece’s proposal to limit the main engine power of ships in order to reduce emissions. As Lloyd’s List reported last year, Greek owners favoured curbing engine power for all types of ships, but with deeper cuts in power for containership engines compared with current norms.

Mr Veniamis welcomed recent Greek government pledges to make the Greek flag a priority, but he warned that “urgent” action was needed to stop the leakage of ships from the national registry before the damage becomes irreversible.

Linked to this, there was also a need for an immediate reorganisation of maritime training in Greece to produce sufficient well-trained officers.

In addition to serving the Greek-owned fleet, the country could become a cradle for producing seafarers for shipping interests of other nationalities. But to do so, the state academies would have to be modernised and expanded and the country would have to empower private schools to operate in parallel, something that has so far not happened in Greece.

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