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Study affirms global shipping industry can adopt more ambitious emission-cutting targets


The global shipping industry possesses the technical tools to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions anywhere between a quarter to a half by 2030, affirms a study conducted by consultancy CE Delft for four environmental groups.

This can be achieved without significant financial costs, according to the study released prior to the July meeting of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC). Since 2018, the IMO has stipulated that shipping should reduce emissions by 50% by 2050 relative to 2008. 

The analysis says that ships can achieve 36-47% emissions reduction by 2030 compared to 2008 levels by deploying 5-10% zero or near-zero emission fuels, wind-assist technologies, and by ‘climate optimising’ the speed of ships.

According to the study, halving emissions in this decade would just add around 10% to the total cost of shipping operations. This financial impact would be dwarfed by the cost of climate related damages to the industry and wider society if shipping fails to cut emissions. University College London estimates that every year of inaction this decade will add an extra $100 billion to the cost of shipping decarbonisation.

John Maggs, Seas At Risk, said: “The science is crystal clear, emissions from shipping have to halve by 2030 if we are to stand any chance of keeping warming below the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit. What was less clear until now was if this was possible without impacting trade. Now we know not only that it is possible and shipping has a clear pathway to halving its climate impact by 2030, but that it can do so at minimal cost.”

Faïg Abbasov, Transport & Environment, said: “Waiting until 2050 to decarbonise is a bit like waiting until your house burns down before you call the fire brigade. This would be irresponsible and disingenuous. Science says halving emissions by 2030 is technically possible, and costs are manageable. What is needed is the political will; IMO needs to either step up or ship out!”

Delaine McCullough, Ocean Conservancy, said: “Countries and shipping companies have raised real concerns about the technological and economic feasibility of achieving the 1.5°C-aligned goal of halving emissions by 2030. This analysis clearly shows that these reductions are possible and that costs are not a barrier. The evidence couldn’t come at a better time. The IMO must not squander what may be the last best opportunity to put shipping on track to prevent a climate disaster.”

(Dreamstime Photo)