UK: Slow Steaming Is Not Good Enough as Low Carbon Alternative

ShippingIllustration. Source: Pexels under CC0 Creative Commons license

In an effort to reduce carbon emissions from ships, French and Greek authorities are set to discuss limiting the speed of ships as a possible solution.

The authorities would discuss the proposals at a meeting of the International Maritime Organisation and call on regulators to enforce a speed limit on international shipping.

However, the new proposals could have the opposite effect, the UK Chamber of Shipping said, adding that there are no evidence that such limits will result in lower carbon emissions.

“The shipping industry is committed to reducing its carbon emissions by at least 50%. To achieve this we need continued investment in green technologies that will allow ships to conduct their business through a range of low carbon fuels such as battery power, hydrogen fuel cells or even wind power,” Anna Ziou, Policy Director at the UK Chamber of Shipping said.

“Shipowners have already limited their speed by a considerable amount in the past decade and whilst these proposals have good intentions, promoting further slow-steaming as a low carbon alternative for international shipping is just not good enough. They will give a false impression that the industry is taking action, when in reality they will deliver no meaningful reduction in emissions.”

Ziou added that the proposals would lead to behavioural change in the wider supply chain that could further drive up emissions. Speed reduction could result in supply chains using alternative modes of transport, such as road haulage, which would increase overall emissions, Ziou explained.

“In addition, ships may call at certain ports that are tidally constrained where a delay of just one hour could result in a knock-on delay of 12 hours to the vessel as it awaits the next tide. Aside from the economic harm, this would unnecessarily create further emissions during the additional waiting time.”

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