10 Ways To Cut Shipping Emissions In The Coming Decade


UN’s Intergovernmental Panel gave a disheartening climate report, warning of a “code red for humanity” as the use of fossil fuels exaggerates global temperatures, says an article published in TheConversation.

Paris climate agreement

To keep below the threshold of 1.5 degrees °C of warming – the goal of the Paris climate agreement – immediate reductions in carbon emissions are needed. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the UN shipping regulator, has put issues surrounding shipping and climate change high on its agenda.

Calculation of shipping emissions

Shipping emissions can be calculated using four principal factors:

  1. the weight of products transported,
  2. the distance they’re sent,
  3. the amount of fuel it takes to move one tonne of products one kilometer, and
  4. the amount of carbon released by making and using that fuel – known as the fuel’s carbon-intensity.

The overwhelming focus of political attention is mainly on that last point – which fuel is used, and how carbon-intensive it is.

Methods to reduce shipping emissions.

Hence we need to plan deliberately on methods to reduce shipping emissions. 

Here are some that can be put into action:

  1. Fewer goods transportation

In a world of finite resources, we need to think critically about consuming less – for example, whether we need to import containers of garden gnomes from China to the UK, or whether high street clothes retailers should continue to prioritize fast fashion models where clothes are shipped halfway around the world yet only designed to last for several uses. Thereby shipping goods for vital purposes.

2. Short-range transport

With the advancement in technology methods like 3D printing could see goods printed locally and on-demand. The new generation of shipping fuels could also be produced nearer to where they’re needed, so they only have to be transported by ship over hundreds, rather than thousands of miles.

3. Moving at Moderate Pace

The faster ships move, the more energy they need. The bottom line is that going slower is one of the most effective and immediate ways to cut ships’ fuel use. This can happen naturally due to high fuel prices, and regulations on ship speed limits.

4. Retrofit ships

There are multiple ways to retrofit ships so they use less fuel, like adding protruding “bulbous bows” to reduce resistance from waves and upgrading ship propellers and hulls to improve fuel efficiency.

5. Drive benefits from wind

Spinning cylinders called Flettner rotors and huge kite sails are just two technologies that harness the power of the wind to help propel vessels. This can cut fuel consumption by 10%. Coupling this with computer programs that model wind speed and direction allows ships to optimize their routes, saving ships a further 10% of fuel.

6. “Shore Power”

Ships can use less fuel when in port by switching off their engines and connecting to local electricity grids instead. This technique, which also reduces air pollution in coastal cities, is called “shore-power”

7. Carbon accounting

Many alternative fuels produce low levels of carbon dioxide when burned. But the emissions arising from their production need to be properly accounted for. Hydrogen can be produced in different ways that lead to very high or very low carbon emissions.

8. Carbon taxes

It’s time for the IMO to impose a tax on carbon pollution, to allow alternative fuels to compete with traditional carbon-based ones. Revenues from this can fund research and development into new fuels, and support developing nations to decarbonize their shipping sectors.

9. Green policy making

The UK could prioritize building zero-emission vessels in its forthcoming National Shipbuilding Strategy, and run more innovative contests like the  Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition to provide greater support for greener shipping tech.

10. Strong framework

All of the above methods need to operate within a clear framework for reducing overall shipping emissions if the sector is to play its part in meeting the goals of the Paris climate agreement. The IMO needs to commit to more stern climate targets to deliver major reductions in the coming decades.

Did you subscribe to our daily newsletter?

It’s Free! Click here to Subscribe!

Source: The Conversation


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.