Michael Woods, co-chair of the UK Environmental Law Association’s climate change working party, told edie that EU chiefs are expected to reveal at the end of this year how shipping will be brought into the scheme.

However, he warned that there are still many questions to be answered and it was unclear who would take the lead in reducing the industry’s impact on climate change.

Speaking to industry heads on Thursday, Mr Woods, head of the environment group at London-based law firm Stephenson Harwood, said shipping companies must get involved in the policy debates early to influence discussions and pursue financial opportunities.

He said: “The industry should be gearing up for that in the same way that the aviation industry has.

“But there are still a lot of issues to be resolved which will have to be addressed very quickly because it’s almost 2008.”

He added: “The question at the moment is who is going to lead? Who is taking responsibility?

“I expect there will be a policy punch-up between the likes of the EU, the International Maritime Organisation, the US and the UN in terms of how things should move forward.”

A study for BP said shipping emissions account for around 5% of total global carbon emissions, but Mr Woods said this must be balanced against the industry’s important role in world trade.

He said: “Given the kind of miles that it covers and the produce that it provides to the public, it is a reasonably environmentally-friendly mode of transport.

“It carries 90% of total world trade. It is a slightly different model from aviation.”

Kate Martin

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