Norwegian Shipowners Push for 50% Global Shipping Emissions Cut by 2050

by | Apr 9, 2018

shipping emissions

(Photo Credit: Hubert Gajewski, Flickr Creative Commons)

The global shipping industry should set a goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050, the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association and government officials say, Reuters reported. This push comes ahead of an International Maritime Organization meeting in London this week.

“Emissions should be reduced by 50% towards 2050 compared to 2008,” Harald Solberg, head of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association, said at a joint news conference with Trade Minister Torbjoern Rooe Isaksen, according to Reuters. “In the same period demand will increase by maybe 60%, so in absolute terms it’s more than a half.”

Last month, the IMO announced a new European Union-funded project designed to help shipping become a low-carbon operation. The initiative is uniting regional maritime technology centers into a global network that promotes technologies and operations for improving energy efficiency in the maritime sector.

“Estimates say ships’ energy consumption and CO2 emissions could be reduced by up to 75% by applying operational measures and implementing existing technologies,” the IMO says. “Improved energy efficiency means less fuel is used, and that means less harmful emissions.”

The IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee’s week-long meeting starts at the organization’s London headquarters today. Reuters reported that the committee is expected to adopt an initial strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships.

Solberg said that the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association fears regional solutions for emissions targets won’t be enough. “We hope the IMO will agree on these ambitious emission targets,” he said, adding that the association’s vision is for shipping to be emissions-free in 2100. Norway’s own $45 billion fleet is the fifth most valuable in the world behind Japan, Greece, China, and the United States, Reuters reported.

Global shipping industry leaders have been grappling with emissions for a while now. Shipping was left out of the 2015 Paris accord, and a meeting of around 200 industry leaders in Bonn last November didn’t produce any unanimous decisions on how to decarbonize cargo ships.

Slashing maritime emissions in the industry could be achieved despite the significant challenges. Smaller scale example demonstrate what’s possible through coordinated action. A report from a voluntary inventory published in March showed that maritime-related air pollutant emissions in Puget Sound had decreased in nearly every sector between 2005 and 2016.

The Port of Seattle credited investments by the maritime industry, government agency efforts, and new regulations for the lower emissions. Emission reduction initiatives in the region included financial incentives for ships to burn cleaner fuel and the IMO’s Energy Efficiency Design Index that increases ship design efficiency related to energy and emissions.

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