ICS vision: zero CO2 emissions from shipping

Written by Nick Blenkey
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NOVEMBER 7, 2017 – The 2017 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 23) opened in Bonn, Germany, this week. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), representing owners controlling over 80 percent of the world merchant fleet, will be attending to emphasize how the shipping industry is supporting the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) to develop an ambitious CO2 reduction strategy.

“ICS has a vision of zero CO2 emissions from shipping in the second half of the century,” says ICS Director of Policy, Simon Bennett. “We are confident this will be achievable with alternative fuels and new propulsion technologies.”

ICS says its vision might be delivered with batteries or fuel cells using renewable energy, other new technologies such as hydrogen or even something not yet anticipated.

In the meantime, the shipping industry has proposed that IMO Member States should adopt a suitably ambitious goal for reducing total emissions from the entire international shipping sector by an agreed percentage by 2050.

ICS says that a large number of IMO Member States have already come forward with detailed proposals. Several EU and Pacific island nations have jointly proposed that the sector should reduce total CO2 by as much as 70 percent by 2050.

“Japan has set out in detail to IMO how a 50 percent total cut by 2060 might be achieved,” noted Mr. Bennett. “In view of projections for future trade growth, an objective in this range, while still incredibly ambitious, therefore seems more realistic.”

Whatever is decided, ICS says that the entire world fleet is probably unlikely to enjoy global access to new alternative fuels for at least another 20 or 30 years. Moreover, population growth and further improvements to global living standards will probably determine that demand for shipping must continue to increase, as it is already by far the most carbon efficient form of commercial transport.

ICS says that, using a combination of technical and operational measures, the international shipping sector already appears to have reduced and held its total annual CO2 emissions at about 8 percent below its 2008 peak. This is despite an increase of about 30 percent in maritime trade, estimated in tonnes of cargo transported one nautical mile (tonne-miles) over the period up to the end of 2015.

ICS cautions that these latest estimates by third parties will have to be verified by the next official IMO Greenhouse Study in 2019 using the new IMO CO2 Data Collection System.

“They are nevertheless encouraging especially given the dramatic reduction in fuel prices since 2014,” said Mr. Bennett,” adding that a significant increase in marine fuel costs is expected in 2020 due to the mandatory global switch by the world fleet to low sulfur fuels.

“This should greatly incentivize, to the extent this is possible, the further reduction of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by ships.” said Mr. Bennett.

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