Monday, September 21, 2009

Cargo Carbon Cutting Hits The Headlines Again

All Eyes on IMO for Leadership
Shipping News Feature

UK – With the forthcoming World Maritime Day scheduled this year for 24th September the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has a pair of proposals to discuss with an eye to limit emissions from seagoing vessels.

The theme of this years meeting, matched by an equivalent event in the US on the 16th October, is “Climate Change: A challenge for the IMO too” and there are two proposals to be discussed one from France, Germany and Norway which parallels the EU emissions scheme and one from the Danes is a simple tax on shipping for the richer countries coupled with a ceiling on emissions.

The difficulty for the negotiations is that some consider moves to cap shipping pollution simply a politically correct manoeuvre as cargo carried by sea is eighty times more carbon efficient than air freight. In addition to this the IMO, the only United Nations specialist organization with an HQ in the UK, are thought by some to be prevaricating whilst they await the results of the UN climate change conference, scheduled for Copenhagen in December.

In the meantime the big shipping companies PR departments are rumbling into action to demonstrate what they have achieved so far. Vessels like the Estelle Maersk are designed with energy efficiency paramount, her slave double turbine system using surplus engine heat for a supplementary energy source, water cooling for reefer containers and high tech anti fouling to reduce hull friction. Others are experimenting with giant kites working a spinnakers plus solar power generation aboard vessels like Mitsui OSK’s ISHIN – 1 covered here earlier this month.

What is beyond doubt is that the billion or so tonnes of CO2 generated by global shipping fleets is under scrutiny and, along with every other polluting industry, more must be done, and seen to be done, to avoid chastisement by the world at large.