E were growing fears within the shipping industry last night that government ministers gathered at the Copenhagen climate change summit would impose a green tax on shipping.
There was thought to be growing support at the talks for a global tax or an emissions trading scheme for shipping and aviation.
The British government favours emissions trading over taxes on the two sectors.
But the Baltic and International Maritime Council and the International Chamber of Shipping set out how they would cut greenhouse gas emissions from the shipping industry at a side event in Copenhagen last Friday.
Representatives of major ship owners explained efforts were already under way to improve fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions from ships by using new technology and operational measures.
The shipping industry urged the Copenhagen Conference to give the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) a mandate to finalise a comprehensive package of technical and economic measures, which are already developed.
The industry believes the IMO is best placed to apply these to all ships in international trade. The IMO recently agreed to reduce ships’ sulphur emissions and nitrous oxides on a global basis.
Airlines are due to join the European emissions trading scheme in 2012, but shipping has so far been excluded. A tax on bunker fuel used in shipping met with the most support among western nations.