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IMO looking at ways to further reduce shipping emissions

Reducing greenhouse gases is a key agenda item as the Marine Environment Protection Committee meets this week in London.

   The International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee opened its 74th session Monday in London and the IMO said in a press release “reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) from ships is a key agenda item.”
In a press release previewing the meeting, the IMO said a “fourth IMO GHG study is expected to be initiated, the procedure for assessing the impact on states of new measures will be considered and possible short-term measures will be discussed.”
A group of 120 shipping companies (largely bulk ship operators) and nine environmental organizations said in an April 30  letter that they support mandatory speed reductions to reduce shipping emissions.
But groups such as the Coalition for Responsible Transportation oppose the mandatory slow steaming.
In a commentary Monday in its Container Insight Weekly, the London-based ship consultants Drewry, said, “There does appear to be some marginal gains to be had from slowing ships even further, both in terms of fuel consumption and cost,” but added that “further evaluation of the unintended consequences is required.
   “With slow steaming being such a long-established feature of the industry, it is questionable how much slower containerships can go,” said Drewry.
“For the owners of the cargoes, shippers, the prospect of slower services and potentially higher freight rates is not so appealing, although many of them too are under pressure from their own customers to support a greener agenda,” Drewry said.
   For carriers, Drewry said it might be expected that carriers would support more slow steaming so long as the full marginal cost of the added vessels was supported, but it noted that container carriers have not embraced the concept of mandatory speed limits
    Maersk, in a statement has said “ 
Whilst it can be argued that reducing ship speeds reduces fuel consumption and thus CO2, speed reductions are not an appropriate solution for Maersk and the container sector in general,” and that
Mandatory speed reductions will favor old, inefficient ships in service and remove the incentive to engage in efficiency improving innovation.”
   Maersk says “There is a fundamental difference between container shipping and tramp shipping: for container lines the cost of fuel is paid directly, whilst for tramp shipping this cost is generally passed onto charterers. This creates a situation whereby one sector has a large incentive to invest in energy efficiency measures and has done so for the past decade, whilst the other will need prescriptive measures to deliver any form of reduction.”
   Maersk says decarbonization can only be achieved through a strong research and development effort and  there are only two ways to achieve it, either through related prescriptions or economic incentivization penalizing GHG emissions. Two steps are needed at IMO. First step is to raise a fee for R&D, second step is the introduction of a carbon price.”
  IMO has set out a goal to reduce CO2 emissions per transport work, as an average across international shipping, by at least 40% by 2030, pursuing efforts towards 70% by 2050 compared to 2008.

Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.