The International Registry is safe, but Italy will have a SECA area
Minister of the environment Costa urged shipowners to collaborate in order to prevent other countries from imposing an emissions regulation
Rome – With its contribution and tax reliefs the International Ship Register is safe also for 2020, but the next problem that Italian shipowners will have to face is the creation of a SECA area in the Mediterranean and along Italian coasts.
This is what emerged from Confitarma’s meeting held in Rome and attended by Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte and by the ministers of transports and of the environment, Roberta De Micheli and Sergio Costa respectively.
The most important news was announced by the latter who, after having endangered the existence of the International Registry by classifying maritime transport as an environmental damaging subsidy (thus not worthy of tax benefits), declared to shipowners: “Let’s create a road map together to achieve the 0.1% sulphur limit of ships, otherwise someone will impose this road map sooner than we expect”.
Last May, during a G7 Environment meeting, Costa had already suggested this measure (setting 2023 as the deadline for its implementation). From next January, an international regulation (IMO Sulphur Cap) will force shipowners to reduced sulphur emissions caused by shipping from 3.5% to 0.5%, but the creation of a Sulphur Emission Control Area will imply a further reduction of said limit to 0.1%.
As concerns the new regulation, Minister Costa added: “Let’s devise, negotiate and establish it in advance, otherwise we might be exposed to a market risk”.
Italy will join France and Spain, which already declared their intention to create a Sulphur Emission Control Area in the Mediterranean like those already existing in the Baltic Sea, in Norther Europe and along North American coasts. For cargo oceans ships shipowners, such a strict limit to emissions would imply an increase in costs between 30,000 and 50,000 dollars per year for each unit in their fleet.
A further reduction of emissions seems to be implicitly required by the Ministry of the environment to Confitarma in order to leave the International Registry as it is. In fact, the latest draft of the Budget Law does not provide for a reduction of its tax reliefs. “Italy is a green shipping friendly country”, Costa replied to the president of Italian shipowners Mario Mattioli, who had asked whether the executive really wanted to support the Italian merchant fleet.
In his speech, the minister of the Environment also asked shipowners to collaborate in order to identify the ports which need liquefied natural gas supply stations. “We must work together. Shipowners must tell the ministry where to put LNG hubs”, declared Costa, before announcing that from next January his Ministry will “establish a special general directorate of the sea”.