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Luxury yacht, Cyclades in Greece. Photo credit: Claudio Poggio

Large yachts of the super-rich spared from EU’s new CO2 tax

CO2 emissions are becoming more and more expensive – a consequence of EU emissions trading. Since 2005, it has been extended to more and more branches of industry. In the future it will also apply to shipping. But there are exceptions: rich yacht owners still do not have to buy CO2 certificates.

Published: January 21, 2023, 8:16 am


    Since 2005, some large industrial companies have had to buy certificates for their CO2 emissions. This is a result of the EU’s emissions trading system, which has been gradually expanded since then. Since 2012, for example, airline companies have also had to obtain certificates for intra-European flights.

    The system is to be expanded again, the EU decided at the end of 2022. In future, road traffic and buildings will also be included. Many are celebrating the decision to expand emissions trading to include shipping as a major breakthrough. But there are some curious exceptions.

    From 2024, only large passenger and cargo ships over 5000 gross register tons will be affected. Owners or renters of lavish yachts can rest easy: they will benefit from an exemption rule in CO2 emissions trading. This was announced by the EU Commission when asked by the German broadcaster NDR.

    In other words, no billionaire has to buy CO2 rights for his huge ship, no matter how much he uses it.

    The emissions from yachts are enormous as they consume huge amounts of fuel, from “350 liters, 500 liters or even more than 1000 liters of diesel per hour”, reported the Tagesschau.

    Some NGOs blasted the new regulation: “Super-rich yacht owners cause more pollution on a summer’s day than the majority of people do in their entire lifetime, but politicians continue to let them get away with it.” The 1500 larger yachts in Europe emit around 725 tons of CO2 per year on average.

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