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Regional Carbon Pricing for International Maritime Transport: Challenges and Opportunities for Global Geographical Coverage

Goran Dominioni, Dirk Heine, Beatriz Martinez Romera


Although the existing literature identifies a fuel levy imposed by means of a global agreement as the most efficient policy for carbon pricing in the maritime sector, scholars and policy makers have debated the possibility for regional measures to be introduced in case a global agreement cannot be achieved. This debate has highlighted several economic, legal, and political challenges that the implementation of an efficient and effective regional scheme would have to face. This article compares the relative performance of various regional measures for carbon pricing based on the following criteria: jurisdictional basis, data availability, environmental effectiveness and avoidance strategies, impact on competitiveness, differentiation for developing countries, and incentives for reaching a global agreement. The main finding is that, if carefully designed, a cargo-based measure that covers the emissions released throughout the whole voyage to the cargo destination presents various advantages compared with other regional carbon pricing schemes. These advantages have been largely ignored in the literature.

Goran Dominioni, Erasmus University Rotterdam, School of Law, Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics. At the time when this article was written, Goran Dominioni was working at the World Bank Carbon Markets and Innovation Unit. Dirk Heine, World Bank, Macro, Trade and Investment Global Practice; Global Macro and Debt Analytics Unit (GMTMD). Beatriz Martinez Romera, University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Law, Fiscal Relations Research Group, and Center for International Law, Conflict and Crisis. We are very grateful to Ben Milligan, Kelley Kizzier and Tristan Smith for very useful feedback and guidance, and to Susanne Gäde and Arne Pieters for useful discussion. Corresponding author: Goran Dominioni, <>. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed in this work are entirely those of the authors and should not be attributed in any manner to the World Bank, its Board of Executive Directors, or the governments they represent. Whereas this knowledge product is a contribution to the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition’s discussions on the appropriate role of carbon pricing in the maritime sector, its findings should not be interpreted as the views of the Coalition or its Partners.


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