If the global shipping industry were a country, it would be the world’s sixth-highest CO2 emitter, ahead of Germany. As an international industry, shipping was not covered by the 2015 Paris climate change agreement that focused on individual nations’ responsibility for critical emissions. But as unprecedented heatwaves, forest fires and flooding raise global awareness of climate change, the shipping industry is starting to make up for lost time.
How significant is their response? And was Maersk’s recent announcement of investing over US$1.4bn in eight post-Panamax containerships that can run on methanol or bunker fuel just a drop in the proverbial ocean? Let’s take a closer look at how shipping is responding to the climate crisis.
FleetMon supports ETH researchers to find the answer.
Fighting climate change demands action in all sectors. International shipping faces the challenge of long lifetimes of vessels compared to other modes of transportation. Decisions on energy carriers and propulsion technologies that are made now have a long-lasting impact on the emissions of the sector.
A research group at the Institute of Energy Technology at ETH Zürich led by Prof. Dr. Konstantinos Boulouchos developed a fleet turnover model for the shipping sector to estimate its future CO2 emissions up to 2050. Thereby, the CO2 emissions of existing ships and those of new ships entering the fleet yield yearly emission figures. However, up until recently, a missing puzzle piece for such models has been how long existing ships will actually still be in service. Missing or prohibitively expensive data has prevented analyses on this topic.
Arctic shipping routes are maritime paths used to traverse the Arctic ocean. They have long been sought, even since historical times as a way to substantially reduce the travel distance between ports. But these routes cannot be traversed readily due to the presence of ice at the Arctic. With the advent of global warming and associated climate change phenomena, the Arctic ice is melting at a record pace. While this is a grim foreshadowing of things to come, a few countries stand to make a tidy profit from this, namely from the ice being replaced by navigable water. But even for these countries, do the benefits really outweigh the costs?
As the world struggles to conquer the coronavirus and overcome the catastrophic economic impact of the pandemic, there have been frequent calls for an environmentally sustainable economic recovery and no return to the status quo a priori. Could green hydrogen and fuel cell technology propel ocean-going shipping into a sustainable, economically viable future?
In recent years, international shipping has increasingly been subjected to criticism for its environmental record. It was in this context that the regulation issued by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) prohibiting vessels from burning fuel with more than 0.5% sulphur content from 1 January 2020 onwards met with a generally favourable reception. As most ocean-going vessels had previously been burning fuel oil with a sulphur content of 3.5%, it was generally assumed that the very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) would have a positive environmental impact, especially when ships are in port. So how about an initial fact check?
Three vessel types were responsible for around three-quarters of worldwide CO2 emissions in 2012. There is little reason to doubt that the Big Three are still responsible for a similar share in 2020. FleetMon provides a global overview of CO2 emissions per vessel type.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from commercial shipping are increasingly grabbing the headlines. Like aviation, shipping had been excluded from climate negotiations because it is an international activity, while both the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2015 Paris Agreement involved national pledges to reduce greenhouse gases. But as ships move around 80% of global trade in volume terms, there is a growing consensus about the need to tackle shipping’s CO2 emissions.
FleetMon collaborates with worldwide logistics and shipping companies as well as with federal ministries, port authorities, and independent research institutes. Our extensive network, combined with over 13 years of experience, reveals our expertise and deep insights in vessel tracking and the shipping industry. Of course, FleetMon is aware of Greenhouse gas emissions debate and various parties’ viewpoints concerning the shipping industry’s effects on climate change and worldwide environmental pollution. Rather than to talk, FleetMon actively contributes to supporting transparency of CO2 emissions caused by commercial shipping.