The automotive industry has led the way and now the global shipping sector must follow suit and cut its carbon emissions. Calls are rightly increasing to pressure the shipping industry to seek ways to reduce its footprint. Recently, the International Maritime Organisation’s environment committee met in London to discuss that very topic and put in place plans to tackle the issue.
Without targeted preparations to clean-up the sector, some experts warn the industry could be responsible for almost a fifth of carbon emissions by 2050. Currently, international shipping activity accounts for about 90% of world trade without any regulations on carbon emissions. This is even more crucial when you consider container ships use fuel that has 3,500 times more sulphur than car diesel.
Despite a provision under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol giving responsibility for carbon emissions control for marine fuels to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the United Nations division responsible for global shipping, improvements have not been widespread. Indeed, shipping was excluded from the Paris Agreement on climate change hindering efforts.
Proposals previously on the table suggested a 50% cut in emissions within 32 years. It’s a move that’s proved problematic. Norway has backed the plan but Pacific Island nations, and those most threatened by rising sea levels, say the target must be higher.
New plans have drawn up proposals to cut emissions by 70% to 100% by 2050 but some nations such as Panama and Brazil have opposed such drastic measures because their economies could be harmed by hasty action. Senior figures have suggested a fund should be set up to help poorer nations make their shipping fleets more environmentally friendly.
The shipping sector can make positive change, there’s no denying that. For example, South Korea recently ordered 200 additional ships for its fleet. They are 30% larger than its current fleet but crucially 30% more efficient.