January 15, 2010 / 6:56 AM / 8 years ago

Japan to propose detailed marine fuel levy plan

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan, one of the world’s top shipping operators, will submit details of its proposal for an international levy on marine fuel ahead of a meeting of the U.N.’s shipping agency in March, a government official said on Friday.

Under the proposal, which was first touted last year as an alternative to an idea supported by some European countries to introduce an emissions trading system in the sector, money raised would be used to help cut carbon dioxide emissions relating to shipping in developing countries.

Funds would be spent in areas including improving conditions at ship recycling yards, many of which are located in India and Bangladesh, the official said.

Ships that improve their fuel efficiency and new ships that exceed efficiency requirements would be offered partial refunds on the levy.

The European Union has called for shipping to cut emissions to 20 percent below 2005 levels over the next decade as part of international efforts to fight global warming.

“Our scheme is a levy, but it includes a system to pool money to be used to help reduce emissions and refunds for environment-friendly ships. It would encourage R&D for ships powered by renewable energy and support developing countries,” said Akihiro Tamura, deputy director at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism’s safety and environment policy division.

Apart from negotiations over a broader U.N. climate pact, the body’s shipping agency, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), is holding separate talks on reducing the sector’s emissions, which account for about 3 percent of man-made CO2 and are expected to rise because of growing demand for goods in emerging economies.

At the last meeting of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee in July, delegates approved voluntary guidelines on an energy efficiency design index for new ships, as well as an index for existing vessels.

Tamura added that Japan, together with Norway and the United States, will propose that the new vessel index, effectively a league table of ship efficiency, becomes mandatory and be used to prevent inefficient craft from being built.

If approved, this would prompt shipbuilders to produce vessels that emit less CO2, the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming. New vessels with lower fuel efficiency than multilaterally agreed would eventually be banned from sale.

Japan accounts for about 15 percent of the global shipping industry, based on its number of beneficial owners, vying with Greece for the No.1 position.

Editing by Joseph Radford

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