Can Shipping Chart A Course That Delivers For The Planet?

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  • Over 80% of traded goods transported by sea; shipping contributes nearly 3% of GHG emissions.
  • International Maritime Organization has 2030 target to cut emissions by at least 20%.
  • Energy-saving improvements include slower-speeds, propeller adaptations and kites

Shipping is the most carbon-efficient means of moving cargo, but it still has a big impact on the planet, accounting for almost 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions. And without urgent action, those emissions are set to continue rising, reports Reuters.

Shipping industry’s aversion to change

Progress on climate action at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the body tasked with regulating the industry, has been painfully slow. Last year, governments agreed to step up ambition, opens new tab, setting a near-term 2030 target to cut emissions by at least 20% while “striving” for 30%. There are “checkpoints” along the way to a rather imprecise target of getting to net zero “by or around, ie close to, 2050”.

That timeline, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) calculates, would enable shipping to keep within a carbon budget compatible with “well below” 2 degrees Celsius average warming, but not the tougher 1.5 degree Paris agreement goal.

But how the famously conservative shipping industry can be pushed to deliver on the targets has yet to be agreed. Proposals for a global fuel standard that would set increasingly tighter limits on the emissions intensity of shipping fuels, alongside economic measures such as a carbon tax on fuel emissions from every ship, are being thrashed out this year. These regulations would support the business case for sectoral transition, but would not enter into force until 2027.

However, Dr Tristan Smith who leads a shipping research group at University College London, suggests that if the political will is there, the IMO’s 2030 target is entirely achievable. “It doesn’t really need any fuel substitution, but you do need to have a significant uptake of energy efficiency. Our analysis shows that the intervention that is particularly effective is to do with the optimisation of ships’ speed relative to their arrival times, berth and logistics operations within the port. Those are basically digital solutions, and can be rolled out incredibly quickly.”

Read the full article here. 

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Source: Reuters