Mandatory speed limits could be shipping lines’ best hope of
achieving the IMO’s 2030 emissions reduction targets.
mandatory limits, based on ship type,” said Shipping officer for lobby group
Transport & Environment Faig Abbasov , speaking on the sidelines of the
Marine and Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 73) in London.
“Furthermore, our slow-steaming initiative is based on an annual
average rather than per individual journey, meaning priority shipments could
travel at a faster rate.”
The IMO adopted a greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction strategy in
April to reduce total shipping emissions by 50%, compared with 2008 levels, by
As part of this effort, it implemented short-term (to 2023),
mid-term (2023-2030), and long-term targets (after 2030).
“Taking the foot off the gas can on its own reach the 2030
target [a 40% reduction on 2008 GHG],” Mr Abbasov added.
“Our proposal to the IMO has had a mixed response, with the
members split on whether to implement it or not.”
“Those countries that
don’t like it mostly doesn’t like it because industry is telling them it will
kill their economies,” continued Mr Abbasov. “But because of the split among
the countries, we believe this leaves room for compromise.”
Mr Abbasov emphasised that the proposal’s focus on annual
average rather than individual shipments would mean fruit would not rot as
those vessels could travel faster.
And slow-steaming, Mr Abbasov said, is not new to the industry,
the 2008 financial crisis forcing many carriers to cut speeds by around 30%
between 2008 and 2012 to reduce fuel bills and soak up excess capacity.
“As a result, the carriers – albeit inadvertently – reduced CO2
emissions by some 200 million tonnes, comparable with the emissions level of
The Netherlands,” he said.
“And there are some companies that really like the idea, as
slowing down reduces the use of fuel and costs; furthermore, if everyone agrees
to it the playing field is levelled.”
In terms of implementation, he described it as a simple process
for carriers and ship operators to follow. Effectively, a table would be
produced detailing each ship type and size and the permitted speeds that would
keep them within the reduction targets.
“Passing the legislation will be difficult, there’s distrust
from members which lack academic departments and question the agenda of scientists
providing the evidence,” he added.
“But of all the measures on the table, it will still be the
easiest both to get signed off and to get into action – because it’s simple.”