10 ways to reduce emissions from shipping today
Alternative fuels are only one piece of the puzzle.
[By Simon Bullock]
Amid this summer’s shocking fires and floods, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s darkest climate science report to date, warning of a ‘code red for ‘humanity’ as our use of fossil fuels continues to raise global temperatures.
To keep warming below the 1.5 ° C threshold – the goal of the Paris climate agreement – immediate reductions in carbon emissions are needed. The International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations shipping regulator, has placed shipping and climate change issues high on its agenda.
Transportation emissions can be calculated using four main factors: the weight of the products being transported, the distance they are sent, the amount of fuel needed to move a ton of product over a kilometer, and the amount of carbon released. by the manufacture and use of this fuel. – known as the carbon intensity of the fuel.
The overwhelming political attention is focused primarily on this last point – what fuel is used and how carbon intensive it is. But it won’t be until 2030 for low-carbon fuels like hydrogen or ammonia to exceed a single-digit percentage of all fuel used for shipping. This is a problem: if we are to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, emissions must see dramatic reductions in the short term.
This means that we need to think about the wide range of other ways to reduce emissions from shipping over the next decade. Here are ten areas to consider:
1. Reduce the amount of fuel needed for shipping by transporting less …
In a world of limited resources, we need to think critically about consuming less – for example, if we need to import containers of garden gnomes from China to the UK, or if street clothing retailers need to keep donating. priority to fast fashion models where clothes are shipped halfway around the world but designed only to last multiple uses.
2.… over shorter distances…
Long-haul transportation may become less necessary in the future, as the boom in 3D printing could see products printed locally and on-demand. The new generation of marine fuels could also be produced closer to where they are needed, so that they only have to be transported by sea for hundreds, rather than thousands of kilometers.
3.… at slower speeds.
The faster ships move, the more energy they need. Ultimately, slowing down is one of the most effective and immediate ways to reduce vessel fuel consumption. This can happen naturally due to high fuel prices, but locking in these benefits requires action from the IMO, such as regulating vessel speed limits.
4. Modernize ships.
There are several ways to modernize ships so that they consume less fuel, such as upgrading the propellers and hulls of ships to improve fuel efficiency.
5. Use the wind …
Spinning cylinders called Flettner rotors and huge kite sails are just two technologies that harness the power of the wind to help propel ships. This can reduce fuel consumption by 10 percent. Coupling with computer programs that model wind speed and direction allows ships to optimize their routes, saving them an additional 10% fuel savings.
6.… and shore power.
Ships can use less fuel when in port by turning off their engines and connecting to local power grids instead. This technique, which also reduces air pollution in coastal towns, is called “shore-power”. Norway, the United States and China are leading the implementation of shore power with government support.
7. Carbon accounting
Many alternative fuels produce low levels of carbon dioxide when burned. But the emissions resulting from their production must be properly accounted for, otherwise we will simply move the pollution from one source to another. Hydrogen can, for example, be produced in different ways which lead to very high or very low carbon emissions.
8. Carbon taxes
Attempts to reduce carbon emissions in the shipping industry tend to fail because standard marine fuels like diesel are largely untaxed and therefore inexpensive. It is time for the IMO to levy carbon pollution charges, to enable alternative fuels to compete with traditional carbon-based fuels. The resulting revenues can finance research and development of new fuels and help developing countries decarbonize their maritime transport sectors.
9. Green policy development
The UK could prioritize zero-emission shipbuilding in its next national shipbuilding strategy and run more innovative competitions like the already oversubscribed Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition to provide greater support for navigation technology greener.
10. Stronger frame
All of the above methods must operate within a clear framework of reducing overall emissions from maritime transport if the sector is to play its role in achieving the goals of the Paris climate agreement. The IMO must commit to achieving more stringent climate targets in order to achieve significant reductions in the coming decades. In maritime transport, as in all sectors, we must use all possible means to reduce emissions as quickly as possible.
Simon Bullock is a PhD candidate in Shipping and Climate Change at the University of Manchester. His PhD focuses on determining the potential of shore power in the UK, identifying obstacles to its implementation and evaluating solutions to overcome these obstacles.
This article is courtesy of The Conversation and can be found in its original form here.
The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.