Shipping – responsible for almost three percent of global emissions but not so far covered by any emissions reduction agreements – could reduce its climate impact by at least one fifth at a negative cost to the industry, a new International Maritime Organisation (IMO) report has shown.
“The shipping industry, currently responsible for more greenhouse emissions than the UK or Canada, now has no excuses for remaining outside international emissions reductions frameworks,” said Peter Lockley, Head of Transport Policy at WWF-UK.
WWF has welcomed The Second IMO GHG Study (2009) which was prepared for a meeting in London today where shipping industry representatives are to consider ways of incorporating shipping emissions into the new global climate deal due to be settled at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.
“Until now the shipping industry has managed to avoid the high levels of public scrutiny that the aviation sector has faced,” said Lockley. “This report confirms that shipping is a substantial source of emissions, but also demonstrates that the industry has nothing to fear from joining the global climate regime, and could actually make financial gains if it gets serious about addressing its carbon emissions.”
Shipping emissions could double or even triple by 2050 under Business as Usual scenarios according to the new IMO analysis. “Mid-range emissions scenarios show that, by 2050, in the absence of policies, ship emissions may grow by 150% to 250% (compared to the emissions in 2007) as a result of the growth in shipping,” the report said.
On the other hand, there is major potential for shipping to cut its emissions through fuel saving technologies and practices.
“A significant potential for reduction of GHG through technical and operational measures has been identified,” the report says. “Together, if implemented, these measures could increase efficiency and reduce the emissions rate by 25% to 75%.”
Most immediately promising are “a range of measures whose cost efficiency is negative. That means that these measures are profitable even when CO2 emissions have no price”.
“The range of the maximum abatement potential of these measures is 135 to 365 Mt (Million tonnes) of CO2 and lies, for the central estimate, at about 255 Mt,” the report said.
The report, which considered a whole range of measures, including towing kites, speed reductions, and upgrades to hulls, engines and propellers, also found that Emissions Trading or a Bunker Fuel Levy are efficient and cost-effective policies to tackle shipping emissions
At this week’s conference the industry will aim to decide its position on whether shipping should be included in the global climate deal through emissions trading or a levy. Many national shipping associations support one or other of these measures, but some still think they can escape regulation.
Shipping schemes will be discussed further at an IMO meeting in July, which will report what progress IMO has made before the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change conference at Copenhagen. Consensus support within the shipping industry for a global scheme that sets an overall cap on their sector would give a major boost to the IMO meeting in July.
“WWF believes it is vital that shipping emissions come within an overall cap under the post-2012 climate regime, as they are projected to rise even if gains in efficiency are taken into consideration,” Lockley said.