Five ways the shipping industry can reduce its carbon emissions

A shipping industry summit is looking into how it can reduce its share of global greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. But a lack of low carbon technologies is not the problem.

The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) 72nd Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting (MEPC) in London started off by being a promising, yet contentious gathering, as the industry desperately tried to agree a strategy for reducing emissions.

The sector has responded to this challenge with differing levels of enthusiasm. The Marshall Islands called for a 100% cut in emissions by 2035, a group of countries (including India and Saudi Arabia) pushed for no outright cap on emissions, while the European Union wanted a cut of between 70% and 100% by 2050. It is looking likely that a strategy to deliver a 50% reduction from 2008 levels by 2050 is going to be the agreed outcome. Many fear this demonstrates insufficient progress.

Previous analysis indicates that significant cuts in emissions within the sector will be extremely challenging to achieve unless fundamental changes are realised in the short term.

Some options on the table

So what can the sector do to rapidly reduce its emissions in the near term? There are many technical measures and operational improvements already being investigated in industry and academia. Here are five viable options, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive, that could help the industry cut emissions.

  1. Operational measures including slow steaming....

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