Greenhouse gas emissions from the international maritime industry

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An ongoing study by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on greenhouse gas emissions from ships has estimated the total carbon dioxide emissions from international shipping to be 847 million tons in 2007, constituting 2.7 per cent of the global anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions[1]. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), around 90% of global merchandise is transported by sea, and "economic growth and the increased integration in the world economy of countries from far-east and southeast Asia is contributing to the increase of international marine transport.”[2] Consequently, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has reported that international maritime emissions from developed countries rose by 7.0% between 1990 and 2005.[3]

International aviation and shipping are the only greenhouse gas emitting sectors which are not covered by the Kyoto Protocol, reportedly due to "lack of reliable emission data and lack of an agreed approach for defining responsibility by country."[4]

IMO report flags potential significant savings

In 2009, a report on the greenhouse emissions of the shipping industry which was commissioned by the IMO stated that "mid-range emissions scenarios show that, by 2050, in the absence of policies, ship emissions may grow by 150% to 250% (compared to the emissions in 2007) as a result of the growth in shipping." The report found that a range of technical and operational measures could "increase efficiency and reduce the emissions rate by 25% to 75% below the current levels." It also recommended the introduction of a "mandatory limit on the Energy Efficiency Design Index for new ships is a cost-effective solution that can provide an incentive to improve the design efficiency of new ships."[5]

Assessment of potential reductions of CO2 emissions from shipping by using known technology and practices[6]
>
Design (New ships) Saving of CO2/tonne-mile Combined Combined
Concept, speed & capability 2% to 50%+ 10% to 50%+ 25% to 75%+
Hull and superstructure 2% to 20%
Power and propulsion systems 5% to 15%
Low-carbon fuels 5% to 15%*
Renewable energy 1% to 10%
Exhaust gas CO2 reduction 0%
Operation (All ships)
Fleet management, logistics & incentives 5% to 50%+ 10% to 50%+
Voyage optimization 1% to 10%
Energy management 1% to 10%

+ Reductions at this level would require reductions of operational speed.

* CO2 equivalent, based on the use of LNG.

Kyoto Protocol Provisions

The Kyoto Protocol, which was negotiated in 1997, stated in Article 2, section 2 that:

"The Parties included in Annex I shall pursue limitation or reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol from aviation and marine bunker fuels, working through the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization, respectively."[7]

Mitigation Strategies

The IPCC reported that “the vast majority of marine propulsion and auxiliary plants onboard ocean-going ships are diesel engines,” which typically have service lives of 30 years or more. Thus, the IPCC concluded, it will be a “long time before technical measures can be implemented in the fleet on any significant scale.” The short-term potential of operational measures for carbon dioxide reductions are estimated at 1-40%, achievable by “fleet optimization and routing and speed reduction.” The long-term estimated carbon dioxide emission reduction potential of the world fleet, per the IPCC, would be 17.6% in 2010 and 28.2% in 2020; however, “this would not be sufficient to compensate for the effects of projected fleet growth.” ."[8]

Speed Reduction

The IPCC found that of all technical or operational measures, speed reduction was found to “offer the greatest potential for reduction” of greenhouse gas emissions, followed by the implementation of new and improved technology. However, the IPCC revealed that “speed reduction is probably only economically feasible if policy incentives, such as carbon dioxide trading or emissions charges are introduced.”[8]

Alternative Energy Sources

The IPCC reported that "switching from diesel to natural gas has a 20% carbon dioxide reduction potential" and also "reduces emissions of SOx and NOx [gases] that contribute to local air pollution in the vicinity of ports." This is currently being pursued as a measure in Norway “for inland ferries and offshore supply vessels operating on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.” However, “a significant shift from a primarily diesel-only fleet to a fleet that uses alternative fuels and energy sources cannot be expected until 2020, as most of the promising alternative techniques are not yet tested to an extent that they can compete with diesel engines."[9]

The IPCC also found that “one potential option is a combination of solar panels and sails,” citing a promising testing of large sails for super tankers in Germany, which “may even be a cost-effective measure in the short term in case oil prices continue to soar.” Moreover, “the introduction of hydrogen-propelled ships and the use of fuel cell power at least for the auxiliary engines seem to be a possibility as well,” while “for larger vessels capable and reliable fuel-cell-based ship propulsion systems are still a long way into the future, but might be possible in 2050.”[9]

Carbon Dioxide Emission Indexing

While the IPCC noted that IMO had not "yet been able to devise a suitable framework for implementing effective mitigation policies,"[10] the IMO did adopt a strategy “focusing mainly a carbon dioxide emission indexing scheme for ships and further evaluation of technical operational and market-based solutions.”[11]

A carbon dioxide emission index describes the fuel efficiency of a ship, and in June 2005, at the 53rd session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee of IMO, interim guidelines for voluntary ship carbon dioxide emission indexing for use in trials were approved. However, “there is major variation in the fuel efficiency of similar ships,” requiring further in-depth investigation, and “voluntary use and reporting results of carbon dioxide emission indexing may not directly result in [greenhouse gas] emission reductions, althought it may well raise awareness and trigger certain initial moves towards ‘self regulation.’”[11]

Economic Instruments

According to the IPCC, “there are currently only a few cases of countries or ports introducing economic instruments to create incentives to reduce shipping emissions,” with examples including “environmentally differentiated fairway dues in Sweden, the Green Award schemes in place in 35 ports around the world, the Green Shipping bonus in Hamburg and environmental differentiation of tonnage tax in Norway.” However, none of these incentives related to greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, one study found that “in many cases a voluntary system would not likely be viable,” and “an alternative economic instrument, such as a fuel tax is vulnerable to evasion.”[11] The IPCC goes on to suggest that “governments may therefore consider investigating the feasibility and effectiveness of emission charges and emission trading as policy instruments to reduce [greenhouse gas] emissions from international shipping.”[12]

The IMO Plods Along

On its website, IMO claims that it is "energetically pursuing the limitation and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from shipping operations." [13] The IMO organized an inter-sessional Working Group on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships in Oslo, Norway, from June 23-27, 2008, to consider technical issues related to controlling greenhouse gas emissions from ships. The IMO is “planning to propose a legally-binding regime on controlling shipping emissions of greenhouse gases at the fifteenth Conference of the Parites (COP15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 2009.” At the meeting in Oslo, “the experts participating shared views and information on a mandatory ‘CO2 Design Index’ for ships,” and “the meeting also discussed international regulatory options, such as imposing a levy on [carbon dioxide] emissions from the shipping sector, or developing an emissions trading scheme.” [14]

The Working Group reported back to the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee, at its October 2008 meeting in London, United Kingdom. If the IMO was under pressure to table proposals for consideration at the COP14 meeting in Poznan in December 2008, it didn't show it. While the Poznan meeting is intended to develop a framework for negotiations aimed at concluding by the COP15 meeting in Copenhagen, the IMO foreshadowed only that it would establish a "working group" to consider greenhouse gas emissions and was "working in accordance with an ambitious work plan, due to culminate, in 2009, with the adoption of a binding instrument. IMO is working to have measures in place to control GHG emissions from international shipping before the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2011."[15]

For its part, the International Chamber of Shipping states on its website that "while it may be possible to reduce CO2 emitted per tonne/mile in a moderately significant way (perhaps by around 15% in the next 5-15 years, with new and bigger ships eventually bringing additional improvements), it appears impossible to guarantee any absolute reduction by shipping as a whole, due to the projected growth in demand for shipping worldwide arising from the growing world population and global economy."[16]

"Notwithstanding the significant emission reductions per ship that the industry hopes to achieve, the growing demand for shipping services means that an absolute reduction in the total emissions of shipping may be very difficult, if not impossible, to deliver unless existing patterns of global trade were to be fundamentally transformed," the ICS states on its website.[16]

Negotiations on Inclusion of Maritime Emissions Ahead of COP 15

On the opening day of the Accra Climate Change Talks 2008, the Earth Negotiations Bulletin noted that "parties have expressed strong differences on inclusion of aviation and maritime emissions under the Protocol, with the EU, Norway and others supporting more discussions on this topic under the UNFCCC process, while others have noted that the issue is also being addressed under the International Civil Aviation Organization and International Maritime Organization."[17] (See Greenhouse gas emissions from the international aviation industry for more details on aviation emissions.)

Early on at the COP14 conference, the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) noted that the International Maritime Organization had briefed delegates. "Chair Plume will prepare conclusions and said the item would be taken up in more detail at SBSTA 32", it reported. (SBSTA is the acronym for the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice.)[18]

However, little progress was made with the SBSTA meekly noting only that "the SBSTA invited the secretariats of ICAO and IMO to report, at future sessions of the SBSTA, on the outcomes of their work on this issue."[19]

In July 2008 the European Parliament voted to include aviation emissions in the emissions trading scheme from 2012 but excluded maritime emissions. However, in September 2008 Reuters reported that Swedish deputy Lena Ek wanted the commission's Industry Committee to support a proposal to include shipping in the scheme as well. "When it comes to regulation of CO2 emissions from shipping, there is nothing -- not nationally, not regionally, or globally," Ek said. "Every sector has to contribute. I have included the inclusion of shipping in my report on ETS."[20]

At the COP14 conference held in Poznan in December 2008, little progress was made on the inclusion of maritime industry emissions in a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin noted that on the second day of the conference, the International Maritime Organization briefed delegates. "Chair Plume will prepare conclusions and said the item would be taken up in more detail at SBSTA 32", it reported.[18] It later noted that no decision was made on whether to remove the exemption from coverage or not.[21]

In its final report to the conference, the SBSTA blandly noted that it had "invited the secretariats of ICAO and IMO to report, at future sessions of the SBSTA, on the outcomes of their work on this issue."[22]

Oxfam proposals for additional funding

In December 2008 a report published by Oxfam International proposed that $16.6 billion in new funding for the Adaptation Fund could be obtained by 2015 (assuming a carbon price of $45 per ton) by establishing emission limits for shipping, "focused on developed countries only, and auctioning off emission allowances" in the sector.[23]

Citing UNCTAD data, Oxfam reported that approximately 60% of global maritime emissions "can be attributed to ships importing goods to Annex I countries." It proposed that an emissions trading scheme for the sector could operate on the basis of emissions being allocated to ships above a specified threshold "using a route-based approach that attributes CO2 emissions to Annex 1 countries according to a ship’s country of arrival. In most cases, this would cover the last leg of a ship’s journey to what is referred to as the final ‘port of call’ in an Annex 1 country."[24]

In order to ensure that the introduction of an emissions trading scheme didn't adversely affect developing countries Oxfam argued that "the cost of imports to developing countries would not be affected because shipping routes between non-Annex 1 countries would not be covered and ships en route to developing countries originating in developed country ports would also not be covered."[24]

An alternative to an emissions trading scheme, Oxfam suggested, would be an emissions levy imposed at the developed country port on the basis of fuel used. "The levy would have to be set high enough to purchase emissions credits from the international carbon market as well as to generate revenues for adaptation, to support technology improvements in the sector, and to support other needs in developing countries," it noted.[24]

The IMO's last chance before COP15

The final opportunity for the IMO to adopt a proposal to report to the COP15 meeting was at the mid-July 2009 meeting of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) in London. Ahead of the meeting, Friends of the Earth UK's Executive Director Andy Atkins, criticised the IMO for doing too little to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the sector.[25]

Following the meeting, the IMO issued a media release stating that all that had been agreed was that it would "disseminate a package of interim and voluntary technical and operational measures to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping; and also agreed a work plan for further consideration, at future meetings, of proposed market-based instruments to provide incentives for the shipping industry." The next committee meeting, in March 2010, is after the December 2009 COP15 meeting in Copenhagen. While stating that the committee had "held an in-depth discussion on market-based instruments" to address greenhouse gas emissions, all participants could agree on was a "work plan for its further consideration of the topic" in March 2010, four months after the COP15 Copenhagen climate change conference.

The media release also stated that participants expressed "a general preference for the greater part of any funds generated by a market-based instrument under the auspices of IMO to be used for climate change purposes in developing countries through existing or new funding mechanisms under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or other international organizations." The meeting also audaciously claimed that "any regulatory scheme applied to GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions from international shipping should be developed and enacted by IMO as the most competent international body."

The statement also quoted the IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos stating that agreement on the work plan "deserves to be recognized as compelling proof that IMO can, indeed, be entrusted with the regulation of international shipping on the issue of climatic change - an unequivocal message that needs to be heard, and fully understood, all over the globe." Mitropoulos also urged delegates to ensure that those Ministers set to attend the COP 15 meeting were aware of "the complexities of this most international of all industries are duly taken into account when shaping official policies and positions on the issue at hand - both at Copenhagen and at the post-Copenhagen rounds of consultations at IMO."[26]

COP15 Developments

At COP15, the division over best to proceed in responding to rising emissions from aviation and maritime emissions continued. In brief reports to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, both International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) touted their recent announcements about plans to address the sectors emissions. Earth Negotiations Bulletin reported that China argued that any action affecting these sectors should be consistent with the "common but differentiated responsibilities" embodied in the Kyoto Protocol. The Bahamas supported both ICAO and the IMO remaining the agencies responsible for addressing the sectors emissions.[27]

The chair of the committee, Helen Plume, drafted a proposal to simply defer consideration of the issue to a future meeting. The draft resolution simply noted the reports of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) "on their ongoing work on emissions from fuel used for international aviation and maritime transport" and proposed that "the secretariats of ICAO and IMO to report, at future sessions of the SBSTA, on relevant work on this issue."[28]

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References

  1. “AWG-LCA: Emissions of GHG from international maritime transport post 2012, Submission by Norway.”
  2. Suzana Kahn Ribeiro, Shigeki Kobayashi, Michel Beuthe, Jorge Gasca, David Greene, David S. Lee, Yasunori Muromachi, Peter J. Newton, Steven Plotkin, Daniel Sperling, Ron Wit and Peter J. Zhou, "Transport and its infrastructure" in "IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Working Group III Report "Mitigation of Climate Change", Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007, pages 356.
  3. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, "National greenhouse gas inventory data for the period 1990–2005", December 2007, page 13.
  4. State Secretary Henriette Westhrin, "No reason for international aviation and maritime transport to be excluded from a new climate regime", Workshop on greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation and maritime transport, Oslo, Norway, 4-5 October 2007.
  5. International Maritime Organization, "Prevention of air pollution from Ships: IMO GHG Study 2009: Final report covering Phase 1 and Phase 2", Marine Environment Protection Committee, 59th session Agenda item 4, MEPC 59/INF.10, April 9, 2009. (Large Pdf).
  6. International Maritime Organization, "Prevention of air pollution from Ships: IMO GHG Study 2009: Final report covering Phase 1 and Phase 2", Marine Environment Protection Committee, 59th session Agenda item 4, MEPC 59/INF.10, April 9, 2009, page 15. (Large Pdf).
  7. "Kyoto Protocol To the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change", United Nations, 1998, page 3.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Suzana Kahn Ribeiro, Shigeki Kobayashi, Michel Beuthe, Jorge Gasca, David Greene, David S. Lee, Yasunori Muromachi, Peter J. Newton, Steven Plotkin, Daniel Sperling, Ron Wit and Peter J. Zhou, "Transport and its infrastructure" in "IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Working Group III Report "Mitigation of Climate Change", Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007, page 356.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Suzana Kahn Ribeiro, Shigeki Kobayashi, Michel Beuthe, Jorge Gasca, David Greene, David S. Lee, Yasunori Muromachi, Peter J. Newton, Steven Plotkin, Daniel Sperling, Ron Wit and Peter J. Zhou, "Transport and its infrastructure" in "IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Working Group III Report "Mitigation of Climate Change", Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007, page 357.
  10. Suzana Kahn Ribeiro, Shigeki Kobayashi, Michel Beuthe, Jorge Gasca, David Greene, David S. Lee, Yasunori Muromachi, Peter J. Newton, Steven Plotkin, Daniel Sperling, Ron Wit and Peter J. Zhou, "Transport and its infrastructure" in "IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Working Group III Report "Mitigation of Climate Change", Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007, page 375.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Suzana Kahn Ribeiro, Shigeki Kobayashi, Michel Beuthe, Jorge Gasca, David Greene, David S. Lee, Yasunori Muromachi, Peter J. Newton, Steven Plotkin, Daniel Sperling, Ron Wit and Peter J. Zhou, "Transport and its infrastructure" in "IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Working Group III Report "Mitigation of Climate Change", Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007, page 377.
  12. Suzana Kahn Ribeiro, Shigeki Kobayashi, Michel Beuthe, Jorge Gasca, David Greene, David S. Lee, Yasunori Muromachi, Peter J. Newton, Steven Plotkin, Daniel Sperling, Ron Wit and Peter J. Zhou, "Transport and its infrastructure" in "IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Working Group III Report "Mitigation of Climate Change", Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007, page 378.
  13. International Maritime Organization, "Frequently Asked Questions : What about climate change?", International Maritime Organization website, accessed July 2009.
  14. “Maritime Body to Cap Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships,” International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, 11 July 2008.
  15. "Ship emissions high on agenda at IMO environment meeting: Preview: Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) - 58th session: 6 to 10 October 2008", International Maritime Organization, October 2008.
  16. 16.0 16.1 International Chamber of Shipping, "Reducing Shipping's CO2 Emissions", International Chamber of Shipping website, accessed December 2008.
  17. "Third session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA 3) and the sixth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol: Thursday, 21 August 2008", Earth Negotiations Bulletin, Volume 12 Number 377, August 22, 2008.
  18. 18.0 18.1 "COP14 Highlights December 2, 2008", Earth Negotiations Bulletin, Volume 12 Number 387, December 3, 2008.
  19. Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, Agenda item 7 (c): Methodological issues under the Convention: Emissions from fuel used for international aviation and maritime transport", UNFCCC, December 6, 2008.
  20. "EU Lawmaker Demands Shipping Included in CO2 Caps", Reuters, September 11, 2008.
  21. "COP14 Highlights December 1-12, 2008: Summary of the Fourteenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Fourth Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol", Volume 12 Number 395, December 15, 2008.
  22. Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, Agenda item 7 (c): Methodological issues under the Convention: Emissions from fuel used for international aviation and maritime transport", UNFCCC, December 6, 2008.
  23. Oxfam International, Turning Carbon into Gold: How the international community can finance climate change adaptation without breaking the bank, December 2008, pages 2-3. (Pdf)
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Oxfam International, Turning Carbon into Gold: How the international community can finance climate change adaptation without breaking the bank, December 2008, pages 14-17. (Pdf)
  25. Friends of the Earth UK, "IMO must stop turning a blind eye to shipping emissions", Media Release, July 13, 2009.
  26. International Maritime Organization, "IMO environment meeting issues technical and operational measures to address GHG emissions from ships", Media Release, July 20, 2009.
  27. "Copenhagen Highlights: Saturday, 12 December 2009", Earth Negotiations Bulletin, Volume 12 Number 450 - Wednesday, 9 December 2009.
  28. Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, "Emissions from fuel used for international aviation and maritime transport: Draft conclusions proposed by the Chair", December 10, 2009.

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