Maritime transport emitted 938 million tonnes of CO2 in 2012. This represented 2.6% of total global carbon emissions, said International Transport Forum (ITF)
By 2050, shipping CO2 emissions are projected to increase between 50% and 250% if no drastic action is taken, the forum warned.
In order to reverse this trajectory, the 174 member states of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) adopted an “Initial IMO Strategy on reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions from ships” (or “Initial Strategy” for short) in April 2018.
The Initial Strategy’s declared aim is to phase out greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shipping “as soon as possible in this century”. More specifically, the strategy also sets specific emission targets for the shipping sector.
The IMO’s Initial Strategy sets the ambition to reduce the total annual GHG emissions of international shipping “by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008”. In addition to this absolute emission target, the Initial Strategy includes carbon intensity targets for international shipping.
According to ITF Policy Briefs, using only currently known technologies can already eliminate annual shipping CO2 emissions equal to those of 185 coal-fired power plants.
"Lower shipping emissions will come from new technologies, improved operations and alternative fuels. Alternative fuels can also deliver the biggest cut in shipping CO2, " it said.
Only a combination of operational measures, technical innovation and alternative fuels will deliver sufficient CO2 reductions, it pointed out.
The current price of ship fuel does not reflect the costs created by climate change. As a result, some of the alternative propulsion technologies that emit less carbon dioxide are more expensive than oil-based fuel. Building zero-carbon vessels is also more expensive than the construction of conventional vessels.
Regulators can support the uptake of low- and zero-carbon ships through more stringent energy efficiency targets, speed limits and a low-carbon fuel standard, the forum pointed out.
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