Global Shipping Industry and CO2 Emissions

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(Image used for representational purposes only)

A battle is under way to force the global shipping industry to play its part in tackling climate change. If shipping does not clean up, it could contribute to almost a fifth of the global total of CO2 by 2050. A group of nations led by Brazil, Saudi Arabia, India, Panama and Argentina is resisting CO2 targets for shipping.

Their submission says capping ships’ overall emissions would restrict world trade. It might also force goods on to less efficient forms of transport. This argument is being dismissed by other countries which believe shipping could actually benefit from a shift towards cleaner technology.

UK’s Viewpoint

The UK’s Shipping Minister Nusrat Ghani earlier said, “As other sectors take action on climate change, international shipping could be left behind. We are urging other members of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to help set an ambitious strategy to cut emissions from ships.” The problem has developed over many years. As the shipping industry is international, it evades the carbon-cutting influence of the annual UN talks on climate change, which are conducted on a national basis.

IMO’s Stand on Clean Shipping

The decisions have been left to the IMO. The IMO did agree a design standard in 2011, ensuring that new ships should be 30% more efficient by 2025. But there is no rule to reduce emissions from the existing fleet. The Clean Shipping Coalition, a green group focusing on ships, said that shipping should conform to the agreement made in Paris to stabilise the global temperature increase as close as possible to 1.5C.

Tangible Goals

The Paris temperature goals are absolute objectives. They are not conditional on whether the global economy thinks they are achievable or not. So the pressure is on the IMO to produce an ambitious policy. The EU has threatened that if the IMO doesn’t move far enough; the EU will take over regulating European shipping. That would see the IMO stripped of some of its authority.

The Panamanian government supports the Paris Agreement. But Panama, as a developing country that depends on the maritime sector for its progress, and aware that the welfare of its population relies on shipping, believes in the necessity of a well thought-out and studied strategy that allows sustainable and efficient reduction of emissions.

To haste into an uncalculated strategy that aims to reduce emissions to zero by the year 2050 does not take into account the current state of technology. A recent report from the International Transport Forum at the rich nations’ think tank – the OECD, said that maximum deployment of currently known technologies could achieve almost complete decarbonisation of maritime shipping by 2035.

International shipping produces about 1,000 million tonnes of CO2 annually – that’s more than the entire German economy. Campaigners say that huge improvements in CO2 emissions from existing ships can be easily be made by obliging them to travel more slowly. They say a carbon pricing system is needed.

(Image used for representational purposes only)

Emissions & Marine Propulsion Engines – A Perspective

Global Marine Propulsion Engine Market is estimated to reach USD 10.85 billion by 2024; growing at a CAGR of 3.9% between 2016 and 2024. This system creates thrust and enables ships to manoeuvre themselves in water, as well as control emissions. A number of innovations have led to the development of advanced mode of propulsion engine that would ensure safety of the marine ecosystem coupled with cost efficiency and emission checks.

Various types of propulsion engines are used in ships, among which diesel propulsion is most commonly used, converting thermal forces into mechanical energy. Introduction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel engine in ships have also gained popularity in recent times due to their low emission and cost advantages. In last few years, numerous norms have instructed the shipping industry to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, contamination of marine water and others.

(References: BBC, Profshare Market Research, ET)

Sea News Feature, May 3