ICS says Shipping Industry to Cut Emissions by 50% by 2050


The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has predicted that the shipping industry will realise a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 (on 2000 levels). The principal international trade association representing ship owners and based in London, UK has said bigger ships, with better engines and smarter speed management with many using clean fuels such as LNG will contribute to this significant reduction.

The ICS timed their comments in the run up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December. While nations throughout the world will come to Paris to negotiate ways to reduce global carbon emissions the ICS stresses that the maritime shipping industry has already made huge strides in addressing emissions.

Through the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) shipping is the only international industry which has already implemented worldwide policies and regulations to reduce emissions. The IMO set in 2013 a mandatory target where all ships built from 2025 onwards must be 30 percent more efficient than ships built in the 2000s.

While in Paris countries will look to construct a follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol, it is worth noting that almost 70 percent of merchant ships are based in countries not signed up to the Kyoto Protocol. While the Kyoto Protocol only commits countries to land-based CO2 reductions it can illustrate a country’s intentions in reducing its emissions. However, through the IMO some 95 percent of international merchant ships are bound to their regulations and this has been a large contributing factor to the success of the shipping industry in reducing their CO2 emissions by 10% since 2007.

The ICS reports that these emissions reductions are represented across the global shipping sector and promisingly includes developing countries as well as more developed countries.

One of the more immediate steps for the IMO in tackling climate change is to start the collection of CO2 emission from all individual ships. The ICS says the IMO has their backing for this measure and would like to see it mandatory by 2018.

However, the potential for the shipping industry to reduce their emissions by 50% by 2050 has been critiqued by Belgian based Transport & Environment (T&E). The environmental group has said the ICS’s figures are overly optimistic.

In particular T&E said if the shipping industry was able to reduce individual ship’s emissions by 50% due to technological advancements amongst other measures, emissions could rise further if the global shipping fleet expands rapidly as many have predicted.

The ICS looking into the future has said that it expects supply chains to shorten as more emerging economies develop and that they don’t see the tonne/km demand for maritime transport to increase at the same rate as it had prior to 2007 and the GFC.

The ICS references a 2014 study by the IMO in saying that the industry has reduced its emissions by 10% since 2007 and that the industry now only counts for 2.2 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions, in comparison to the 2.8 percent it accounted for in 2007.

T&E has used the same IMO report "Green House Gas Study" to illustrate the unlikelihood of the industry achieving 50% reductions in emissions by 2050. T&E point out that the document states that the overall emissions from the shipping industry could actually increase by as much as 250% by 2050, taking both growth and technological advancement into consideration.

The International Chamber of Shipping’s Annual Review for 2015 can be found at http://www.ics-shipping.org/docs/default-source/resources/policy-tools/ics-annual-review-2015.pdf?sfvrsn=10