Report claims shipping could be responsible for 17% of CO2 emissions by 2050

Shipping could be responsible for 17% of global CO2 emissions in 2050 if left unregulated, according to a new study. “Any agreement at the Paris Climate Summit must therefore send a clear signal to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) that CO2 reduction targets and measures for shipping are needed to help keep warming below dangerous levels,” NGOs Seas At Risk, Transport & Environment (T&E) and the Marine Conservation Society said in a release yesterday.

Emissions from shipping, along with aviation, are “the elephant in the COP21 negotiations room”, the groups said in a dossier presented to delegates arriving for the IMO’s 2015 assembly in London yesterday.

Almost 40% of all CO2 emissions in 2050 will be caused by shipping and aviation if left unregulated, the study published by the European Parliament found.

The European Parliament’s study took into account the IMO’s own research which found that shipping GHG emissions are up 70% since 1990 and are projected to grow by up to a further 250% by 2050. Shipping currently accounts for nearly 3% of global CO2 emissions – higher than those of Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, France or the United Kingdom.

John Maggs, policy advisor at Seas At Risk and president of the Clean Shipping Coalition, said: “Paris should be the moment when the world sets itself on a course that avoids dangerous climate change. To achieve this all will have to play their part; there is no room for shirking responsibility or special pleading, least of all from an industry like shipping that has so much untapped potential to reduce emissions and move to a low carbon business model.”

In the run up the Paris talks, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has repeatedly batted off attacks on the industry’s carbon footprint. Shipping has already reduced its total CO2 emissions by more than 10% between 2007 and 2012, and decreased its CO2 emissions per tonne-mile by around 20% over the past 10 years, ICS claims, maintaining that the industry is on course for carbon-neutral growth.


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Before dealing with CO2 emissions, the raw tangible pollution in the form of particulate matter and sulfur dioxide owing to the extraordinarily dirty residual fuel used in vessels should be addressed. In many port cities, vessels account today for the majority of total particulate matter emissions. Worldwide, these tangible particulate matter emissions can be linked with 100,000 premature deaths each year. This all results from vessels using fuel which is much dirtier than crude oil. One measure of that is that residual fuel contains more than 5,000 times as much sulfur as the gasoline each of us puts in our cars today. In terms of priority, this toxic pollution issue should be dealt with first.

  2. Is a complex issue: Should be considered looking at multi several points of view like for example needyness against huge amounts of commodities transported by sea. (one man in one car being 5000 times less toxic is more foolish having massive transport). Anyway, human beings although a little late are going in right direction.

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