Study finds regulating ship speed could cut emissions by a third

Study finds regulating ship speed could cut emissions by a third

Greenhouse gas emissions from three ship types – containerships, bulkers and tankers – could be reduced by a third, on average, by reducing their speed, according to a new study that will be presented to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) next week.

The cumulative savings from reducing the speed of these ships alone could, by 2030, be as much as 12% of shipping’s total remaining carbon budget if the world is to stay under the 1.5ºC global temperature rise, the CE Delft study for NGOs Seas At Risk and Transport & Environment, founding members of the Clean Shipping Coalition (CSC), found.

Reducing operational speed would also provide a boost to jobs and growth in shipbuilding nations, where the study concludes production would have to grow by over 30% in order to maintain transport capacity for global trade. The study also concludes that the additional costs of slow steaming on exports such as oilcake and beef from Latin America would be marginal, and this is without accounting for lower transport fuel costs.

Bill Hemmings of T&E said: “Shipping is the only international sector that has yet to commit to a global emissions reduction target or measures. Talks at the IMO are expected to be challenging as the industry body, ICS, is on record as opposing every reduction measure so far put forward – including binding reduction targets, the need to tighten design standards or have operational efficiency measures. But industry itself showed clearly that slow steaming works. It proved effective in weathering the economic crisis, so the IMO should now agree mandatory speed measures to achieve the substantial emissions reductions needed to start decarbonisation.”

The findings will be discussed by the IMO next week when it meets for the second time to develop its initial 2018 greenhouse gas reduction strategy. The UN discussions in London will concentrate on a global emissions reduction target and potential measures for the sector. Regulating ship speed is one of the short-term measures on the table that can be implemented immediately.

John Maggs of Seas At Risk and president of Clean Shipping Coalition: “A new regulation to reduce ship speed will be key to the success of the IMO GHG strategy. Only reduced speed can give the fast, deep short-term emissions reductions that are needed for shipping to meet its Paris Agreement obligations. Significant early emissions savings are essential for the long-term decarbonisation of the sector as they preserve shipping’s carbon budget and buy the industry time to develop longer-term decarbonisation solutions. Recent suggestions by industry that no new short-term measures are needed is misguided and reckless, and threatens to undermine the IMO strategy right from the start.”

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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2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Guillaume DE MIK
    October 19, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Re-inventing the wheel???

  2. Avatar
    Tony Fordyce
    October 21, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Sounds like a win-win situation, except for the consumer who may have to pay for the increased cost of goods due to higher freight rates, although that will depend to some extent on bunker prices and the saving in fuel costs as against the increased amount of charter hire. Oh, my head hurts . . .