Speed reduction proposals favour old inefficient ships: Maersk

Maersk’s point man for crunch greenhouse gas (GHG) talks next week at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London has made clear Denmark’s largest shipping line is firmly against the growing clamour for speed limit regulations.

John Kornerup Bang, Maersk’s chief advisor for climate change, will be in the UK capital next week attending the IMO’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC), where he will be backing a submission sent by Denmark, Germany and Spain, that calls for an incentives-backed, goal-based approach to cut shipping emissions in the short-term. The proposal finds itself up against a speed limit proposal, backed by France and Greece, and more than 100 shipowners who have sent the IMO an open letter in the run-up to MEPC.

For Bang, who worked with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) before joining Maersk nine years ago, next week’s discussions centering on bringing in swift emissions cutting proposals for shipping ought to be about bringing fundamental technological change to the industry, not sticking with today’s high polluting global merchant fleet.

“It is important to remember that short term efficiency measures will only keep emissions curves flat – not eliminate them,” Bang pointed out in an exclusive interview with Splash. “Therefore, all short term measures must lay the fundament for the technology shift needed to truly embark on the decarbonisation of our sector.”

Maersk data claims the company has been able to reduce its own CO2 emissions per cargo moved by 41% since 2008.

IMO’s roadmap for decarbonisation, launched last year, calls for shipping to slash its emissions by 40% by 2030 and by 50% by 2050. Not content with this landmark CO2 ruling, Maersk shocked its liner peers last December when it announced plans to become carbon neutral by 2050. To achieve this goal, it has said carbon neutral vessels must be commercially viable by 2030, and an acceleration in new innovations and adaption of new technology is required.

On the speed limit proposals, which have also been vociferously backed by school kids protesting in front of IMO headquarters earlier this week, Bang argued that this was a step backwards for the industry.

“The current speed reduction proposals … favour old inefficient ships in service and remove the incentive to engage in efficiency improving innovation,” Bang argued, echoing comments made by Anne Steffensen, director general of Danish Shipping, Denmark’s shipowners’ association, at the end of last month. “A goal-based approach gives a level playing field and drives innovation towards new fuel types whereas speed limits will not solve the problem and risk being a sleeping pill,” Steffensen told Splash.

Splash will be bringing readers regular updates from MEPC in London next week.


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.
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