Ship Design Efficiency Standard Set to Low

Shipping’s only legally binding climate measure is not stimulating the uptake of new technologies or driving efficiency improvements, according to a new independent study entitled Historical Trends in Ship Design Efficiency made for Clean Shipping Coalition (CSC) by CE Delft, a research and consultancy organization.

As of 2013, new ships are required to have an energy efficiency design index (EEDI) that meets or exceeds the target. However, the NGOs Seas at Risk (SAR) and Transport & Environment (T&E), which are members of the coalition, finds that newbuilds have performed much the same as those not covered.

According to the study, at least two-thirds of containerships, half of general cargo ships and a quarter of tankers launched in 2015 already exceeded the limits for 2020 without using innovative new technologies.

SAR and T&E say the ease with which ships over-comply exposes the weakness of the efficiency standard and the urgent need for it to be strengthened.

As a result, John Maggs, senior policy advisor at Seas At Risk as well as Sotiris Raptis, shipping policy officer at T&E, are calling on tightening the standards of ship design efficiency.

“What is now clear is that recent improvements in ship design efficiency are the result of the market, not the EEDI. If efficiency standards are not tightened there is a real risk that a change in market  circumstances will result in ship design efficiency falling back to the level of the current weak standards,” Maggs said.

The study also shows that, the current low fuel prices and low freight rates provide a driver for a deterioration of the design efficiency of ships. It is believed that if fuel prices continue to be low, ship-owners will have an incentive to opt for less efficient ships if they are cheaper to build. However, EEDI can prevent this. As the stringency of the EEDI increases, the impact on design efficiency is likely to become larger, says the study.

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is currently engaged in a review of the standard. One of the main questions being addressed is whether the stringency of the regulation should be retained or amended. Another issue is the effectiveness of existing EEDI targets in driving design efficiency improvements. The IMO MEPC 69 Committee that meets in London from 18-22 April is to decide on a recommendation from a sub-group reviewing the standard.


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