Shipping Emission Cuts must be Global, U.K says

The Freight Transport Association has welcomed proposals to incorporate the U.K.’s share of emissions from international shipping into the Climate Change Act, but has warned that maritime emissions reductions should be tackled at a global level through the International Maritime Organization, rather than nationally or at a regional level. Otherwise, it argues, the U.K.’s competitiveness could be damaged.

“We support in principle the inclusion of shipping emissions into the Climate Change Act,” said Chris Welsh, FTA’s general manager of global and European Policy. “But shipping is a global industry and we must avoid taking on the burden of reducing emissions alone or else we will be put on an uneven footing with the rest of the world.”

While various factions debate the need to reduce or at least stabilize CO2 and greenhouse gas levels, the FTA is also presenting ocean shipping as a comparatively energy efficient way to move many goods over long distances. It states that while ocean shipping is responsible for 80 per cent of all world trade in volume, it makes up just 2.7 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“Paradoxically, it is precisely shipping’s green credentials that will attract more companies to move goods by sea and increase its contribution to reducing the U.K.’s greenhouse gas emissions,” Welsh added. “We need to ensure that the approach taken to reduce shipping emissions is done at a global level rather than simply trying to solve the problem by introducing emission reductions piecemeal and region-by-region. Additionally, we must have a rigorous and robust method of calculating and monitoring greenhouse gas emissions from freight, so that we can track the progress the industry is making.”

In a report published last week, the Committee on Climate Change, the U.K.’s independent body which identifies how the country can meet national greenhouse gas reduction targets, recommended that greenhouse gas emissions from shipping should be included in future U.K. carbon budgets. Currently, the U.K. is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 based on 1990 levels, but to date international shipping and aviation are not included.

“The U.K. should be responsible for half of all the emissions associated with ships entering or leaving national ports,” the Committee said, “the other half being borne by whichever countries lie at the other end of the journeys.” It added that the U.K.’s share of international shipping emissions is 12-16 million tons of CO2 per year.

In addition to decarbonization measures such as slow-steaming and using software to help navigators find the safest and most efficient routes, alternative measures such as using biofuels or liquefied natural gas as fuel, could reduce ships’ share of carbon by up to five per cent, the Committee concluded.

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