Bunker levy passes the buck on tackling climate change, says BSC

Thursday 14 July 2011

At its quarterly meeting held in London yesterday, the British Shippers Council (BSC) – a democratic arm of the UK’s Freight Transport Association – resolutely rebuffed proposals to impose a bunker levy on shippers to fund environmental compensation schemes. The Council rejected the bunker levy charge as a means to help the shipping industry reduce carbon emissions, believing it would simply pass on shipping carbon costs rather than address the real issue of curbing carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.

The bunker levy scheme has been vaunted as a way of capturing billions of dollars from the maritime industry, which can then be redistributed via the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) into an environmental compensation scheme to help ship owners meet their climate change responsibilities and reduce carbon emissions.

Christopher Snelling, Secretary of BSC, said:

“A bunker levy in the proposed format would simply pass costs from ship operator to customer. The accountability for a ship’s carbon performance surely lies with its owner; passing the buck by way of a bunker levy would be grossly unfair and do very little to tackle the real issue of curbing carbon emissions at the root of the problem.

“The key to reducing carbon is in the hands of the ship owners themselves, where the responsibility to improve operational and environmental efficiency must remain.”

Earlier this year the Global Shippers’ Forum stated it would welcome and support a voluntary shipping industry initiative to reduce carbon emissions through the IMO. Indeed, GSF members are closely collaborating on a new project to decarbonise the maritime supply chain from the shippers’ perspective. The outputs from the project will provide a series of tools to allow shippers to take positive steps to reduce their total maritime supply chain carbon emissions.

Snelling concluded:

“The depth of anti-bunker levy feeling from the BSC and GSF is too strong for the shipping industry to ignore and its message to ship operators is clear: take direct responsibility for setting and achieving a clear target for reducing your own carbon emissions.”

Notes for editors

The British Shippers’ Council is a democratic arm of the UK’s Freight Transport Association. BSC is made up of 12 regional Freight Council members and 40 directly appointed members. Decisions made by the British Shippers’ Council regarding sea freight, air freight or international supply chains can become FTA policy without approval by Freight Transport Council.

The Global Shippers’ Forum was created in 2006 as the successor to the Tripartite Shippers’ Group, first organised in 1994. Like the Tripartite Shippers’ Group, the GSF has represented the interests of shippers from Asia, Europe, North America, Africa and Oceana. The GSF is focused on the impact of commercial developments in the international freight transportation industry and the policy decisions of governments and international organisations as they affect shippers and receivers of freight. www.globalshippersforum.com

About the Shippers’ Decarbonisation Scheme
A significant step forward in reducing carbon emissions in the global maritime supply chain was taken in February when the Freight Transport Association (FTA) joined forces with Heriot-Watt University (HWU) to begin developing a broad range of measures to substantially reduce the carbon intensity of supply chains containing a deep-sea movement. The scheme has subsequently been expanded to involve GSF members, giving the scheme a global dimension. The outputs from the project will be definitive best-practice guidance on reducing cargo emissions in global maritime supply chains.

The template for this best practice guidance will be produced in conjunction with shippers and other stakeholders in the maritime supply chain and the Logistics Research Centre at Heriot-Watt University. The scheme has the backing of the Clean Cargo Working Group.

For further information contact the FTA media team on + 44 (0)1892 552255/552253 or, out of hours, on + 44 (0)7818 450425, or call Chris Welsh, Secretary General, GSF on +44 (0)1892 552308 or +44 (0)7818 450556.


FTA Press Office

01892 552255