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Researchers Show How Shipping Can Cut Emissions Nearly in Half By End of Decade

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 2552
June 26, 2023

With the International Maritime Organization (IMO) set to finalize its strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions shipping next month, Dutch researcher CE Delft has issued a report providing insight into how international shipping can nearly half its emissions by the end of this decade.

So far, IMO Member States have adopted only an Initial Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships, targeting a 50% reduction by 2050 compared to 2008 levels. However, Member States are expected to revise this strategy next month during a meeting of the IMO’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee, known as MEPC 80. A major issue in the revision is not only setting a new 2050 target, but also whether to set targets for 2030 and 2040.

So far, delegations have proposed emission reductions between 29-50%, relative to 2008, for 2030 and 50- 96% for 2040.

To help inform the emission reduction debate, CE Delft has modeled the maximum emissions reduction potential for the shipping sector. What they found was that it is technically possible for international shipping to reduce its emissions by 28-47% by 2030, relative to 2008, but only assuming ships take all possible technical abatement measures available. These measures include the widespread deployment of wind-assisted technology, reducing speeds by 20-30%, and a 5-10% uptake of zero-GHG fuels. Additionally, such a reduction would increase shipping costs by 6-14% on average, relative to business-as-usual (BAU).

The report also found that about half of the emission reductions result from lower speeds and other operational measures, a quarter from wind-assisted propulsion and other technical measures and another quarter from using zero and near-zero-GHG fuels.

As an IMO intersessional working group kicks a week-long meeting this week doing prep-work on the revised strategy, delegates have a lot to consider when considering emissions targets for a sector that transports approximately 90 percent of global trade.

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