The Blue Green Blog

Selected tags

Shipping: Time to clean up your act

04 Jun 2018

The shipping industry is being asked to reduce its carbon emissions, following in the footsteps of the car industry. This is no surprise, as shipping is estimated to be responsible for almost 20% of global carbon emissions by the year 2050. Ships also use fuel that contains 3,500 times more sulphur than diesel used by cars, and even though ships are responsible for around 90% of global trade, there is no current regulation of carbon emissions, internationally. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol made the International Maritime Organisation – the UN division for global shipping - responsible for managing carbon emissions from marine fuels.

In April 2018, the International Maritime Organisation’s environment committee convened in London to devise a global plan to reduce carbon emissions from shipping. The initial proposal was to cut emissions by 50% by the year 2050, but this figure may need to be increased to anywhere between 70% and 100% to prevent damage to marine environments.

There are countries – like Panama and Brazil - that go against these proposals, primarily as they rely on global shipping for much of their revenue, and are worried that their economies may be damaged as a result.

It is concerning that shipping was not included in the Paris Agreement on climate change, however there are countries that are proactively taking measures to improve the carbon footprint of the shipping industry.

Christiana Figueres, a former UN chief negotiator on climate change, says that "One very interesting announcement…came from [South] Korea, which is ordering more than 200 new ships for its fleet. These are 30% larger and 30% more efficient." She adds that some countries may require funding to take on these changes, and that there should be an international finance fund to help such countries.