France seeks speed restrictions on ships

Written by Nick Blenkey
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France has submitted a proposal to IMO’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) calling for speed restrictions to be placed on ships as an initial first step to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships.

A year ago, the IMO adopted its initial strategy for the reduction of GHG emissions from ships. That strategy has three main objectives:

  • A short-term goal: cap emissions as soon as possible.
  • A medium-term goal: to reduce emissions per tonne transport by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 2008.
  • A long-term goal: to reduce the total annual emissions by at least 50% by 2050, compared to 2008.

The French position is that achieving the first short-term goal is crucial for the next two to be fully effective in the fight against climate change. To achieve this, speed regulation is a very effective measure for capping ship emissions as quickly as possible. Speed ​​has a strong impact on fuel consumption: for example, an oil tanker reducing its speed from 12 knots to 11 knots reduces its fuel consumption by 18% and 30% by 10 knots. In addition, this action does not require expensive technological investment and can be controlled by existing means.

France is seeking “immediate” implementation of the speed limitation, to be followed by a second stage in which shipowners, regardless of category, would face an annual fixed cap on fleetwide GHG emissions and would have the choice of how to meet it (speed regulation, improvement of the energy efficiency, etc.).

The proposal has the support of French shipowners’ association Armateurs de France, whose president, Jean-Marc Roué, says “speed reduction is an effective solution to meet the environmental challenge that shipping faces.”

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