Shipping could cut global emissions without cost

Posted: 19 May 2009

International shipping is responsible for almost 3 per cent of global climate change emissions but is not so far covered by any emissions reduction agreements. But, says a new report, it could cut them by at least a fifth without any cost to the industry, and with many benefits.

The report from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), was prepared for a meeting in London earlier this week, where shipping industry representatives discussed ways of incorporating shipping emissions into the new global climate deal due to be settled at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.

"The shipping industry, currently responsible for more greenhouse emissions than the UK or Canada, now has no excuses for remainingoutside international emissions reductions frameworks," said Peter Lockley, Head of Transport Policy at WWF-UK.

"Until now, the shipping industry has managed to avoid the high levels of public scrutiny that the aviation sector has faced," saidPeter Lockley. "This report confirms that shipping is a substantial source of emissions, but also demonstrates that the industry has nothing to fear from joining the global climate regime, and could actually makefinancial gains if it gets serious about addressing its carbon emissions."

Shipping emissions could double or even triple by 2050 under Business as Usual scenarios the report noted. It says, "Mid-range emissionsscenarios show that, by 2050, in the absence of policies, ship emissions may grow by 150 - 250 per cent (compared to the emissions in 2007) as a result of the growth in shipping"

Fuel savings

However the report also reveals the major potential that exists for shipping to cut its emissions through new technologies and practices.These measures would actually save the industry money because, of the fuel savings incurred over their lifetime.

The report considered a whole range of measures, including towingkites, speed reductions, and upgrades to hulls, engines and propellers. Italso found that Emissions Trading or a Bunker Fuel Levy are efficient and cost-effective policies to tackle shipping emissions

The industry must also decide its position on whether shipping should be included in the global climate deal through emissions trading or a levy. Many national associations support one or other of these measures.

Shipping schemes will be discussed further at an IMO meeting in July, which will report what progress IMO has made before the UN limate meeting at Copenhagen in December. Consensus support within the shipping industry for a global scheme that sets an overall cap on their sector would give a major boost to the IMO meeting in July, says WWF.