Monday, November 11, 2019

UK Chamber of Shipping Presses IMO on Global Climate Change Agenda

As Critics Line Up All Eyes Are On Maritime Emission Policies
Shipping News Feature

UK – WORLDWIDE – Readers of Private Eye will have noted the latest addition (no.1508) was critical of the lack of publicity for the climate change meeting being held this week at the London headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in a piece titled 'Fuel's Errand'.

As the piece pointed out the IMO is made up of a broad spectrum of vested interests and opined that there are several schemes proposed which might have a real impact on the production of greenhouse gases from merchant shipping, noting these may well not be adopted given the history of voting in the IMO.

We have ourselves criticised the IMO in the past for the laboriously slow pace in adopting common sense policies in a range of subjects however the incoming Sulphur Cap, due in January 2020, is an indicator that the industry has woken up to its environmental responsibilities (however the policy was announced a decade earlier). Meanwhile individual shipping lines are making strenuous efforts to clean up their own emissions with policies ranging from slow steaming to new ship designs involving the latest technological advances.

These range from electric propulsion to revamped hull designs and coatings and even modernised Flettner rotors as a supplementary wind powered resource for cleaner running and fuel saving. Although the latest Eye article makes much of the fact that shipping produces 3% of the world’s greenhouse gases, it fails to mention that the transport mode carries over 90% of the world’s goods.

Ocean freight is 40 times less polluting that airfreight and, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 25% of all GHGs comes from burning hydrocarbons to supply power, 21% from industry, 24% from agriculture as well as various other sources making shipping about the least damaging such industry considering the enormous amount of essential trade carried.

The eyes of the logistics sector are however turned toward the IMO for leadership in ensuring that shipping can hold its head up and show the world that the steps to be taken are not tokenism, and to reinforce the fact, the UK Chamber of Shipping has put tackling climate change at the top of its agenda. In a statement it urged the IMO to be decisive, saying:

”Shipping is six times more efficient than trucks and over 40 times more efficient than a freight aircraft as a mode of transport, but we know there is more to do to cut emissions and that is why we have called for a green industrial revolution to make the UK a world leader in developing the green technologies of tomorrow.

”But we know we can’t do this all by ourselves. Shipping is a global industry which requires global collaboration and global initiatives. Last year, IMO countries met in London and reached a milestone agreement to limit carbon emissions from shipping through the adoption of the initial Green House Gas (GHG) Strategy. The IMO is meeting this week to discuss short-term measures that will start delivering on its climate commitment deal by 2023.

”The meeting is going to see proposals from countries and organisations, many of which are built on previous submissions ranging from speed restrictions to goal-based approaches, including things like propeller upgrades and innovative paints, that support setting goals that allow ship owners to make their own choices tailored to their business. This week, the UK Chamber of Shipping will work with partners and table proposals that would allow flexibility, a level-paying field, reward early movers and incentivises innovation to help cut emissions.

”The International Chamber of Shipping has submitted a hybrid goal-based approach which combines elements that also addresses the concerns of ships for which key operational decisions are made by the charterer. The Chamber will also continue to push our argument that slow shipping is not the answer to cutting emissions. Whilst much has been made of the possible benefits of slow shipping, we still believe that a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work, and slow shipping is not the answer. Ships are at the heart of international trade and if they are forced to slow down, we may need more vessels to transport the goods we need. This would increase carbon emissions which we all want to avoid.

”What is needed is international regulations that encourages innovation and technological advancement to help reduce emissions, not a blanket reduction in shipping speed. Last May we had a taster of what is to be discussed, where the majority of the IMO countries expressed their clear support for a goal-based approach.

”There are encouraging signs that the IMO is likely to support a goal-based approach at this session as well. However, it should not prolong indecision but signal at this meeting about the direction of travel. The clock is ticking. The IMO meeting is a key opportunity to demonstrate the commitment in its GHG ambition.”