The Maritime Sector’s Impact on Climate Change

Image Courtesy: More Than Shipping

Climate change is an all pervasive phenomenon that has gotten scientists and experts from all over the world worried. The dramatic changes that have taken place due to global warming have resulted in rising sea levels and a marked decrease in flora and fauna in the Arctic region. This article examines how the global maritime industry contributes to climate change and global warming. It appeals to the decision makers to take notice and take action.

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The EU emphasises, “Maritime transport emits around 1000 million tonnes of CO2 annually and is responsible for about 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions (3rdIMO GHG study). Shipping emissions are predicted to increase between 50% and 250% by 2050 – depending on future economic and energy developments. This is not compatible with the internationally agreed goal of keeping global temperature increase to below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels, which requires worldwide emissions to be at least halved from 1990 levels by 2050.”

Impacts are already noted in ports and ship channels due to rising sea levels and changed erosion and sedimentation patterns. Completely new routings are being planned at sea as a result of the melting of the sea ice particularly in around the North Pole. The decreasing polar ice will also enable a number of other maritime activities such as mineral exploitation and fishing in polar areas.

More Than Shipping states, “A record-level low of sea ice has been seen in the Arctic over the past few months. It worries scientists – and the general public should be worried, too, since arctic animals such as polar bears are estimated to decline by at least 30% by the year 2050.”

The European Commission has taken positive steps in the direction of sustainability by introducing the following measures:

Large ships over 5 000 gross tonnes loading /unloading cargo/ passengers from 1 January 2018 at EU maritime ports are to monitor and later report their related CO2 emissions and other relevant information in accordance with their monitoring plan. Monitoring, reporting and verification of information shall be done in conformity with Regulation 2015/757 (as amended by Delegated Regulation 2016/2071).

  • From 1st January 2018, MRV companies shall monitor for each of their ship CO2emisssions, fuel consumption and other parameters, such as distance travelled, time at sea and cargo carried on a per voyage basis, so as to gather annual data into a Emissions report submitted to an accredited MRV shipping verifier;
  • From 2019, by 30 April of each year MRV companies shall submit to the Commission through THETIS MRV (a dedicated European Union information system currently under development by the European Maritime Safety Agency) a satisfactorily verified Emissions report for each of the ships having performed EEA related maritime transport in the previous reporting period (calendar year);
  • From 2019, by 30 June of each year MRV companies shall ensure that, all their ships having performed activities in the precedent reporting period and visiting EEA ports, carry on board a document of compliance issued by THETIS MRV. This obligation might be subject to inspections by Member States’ authorities.
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We need to examine how this problem can be reduced by the collective efforts of the industry. There is a move to reduce emissions and look for more sustainable options wherein companies and ports are directing efforts towards more eco-friendly measures and solutions. However, “what else can we do as a collective?” is a question that needs to be examined in depth.