At a major conference today (18 June) in Liverpool, United Kingdom, hosted by the renowned Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, Peter Hinchliffe, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), gave the keynote speech explaining the shipping industry’s commitment to reducing its CO2 emissions.
Mr Hinchliffe said that shipping is the only industry with a mandatory global regime in place, agreed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), to reduce its CO2 emissions. “We are therefore already on a pathway to deliver ships by 2030 that will be 30% more efficient than those of just a couple of years ago.”
He added: “There is a clear mood to address supply chain efficiency at every stage. In particular, the enormous financial pressure of the global recession on freight rates, coupled with virtually year-on-year fuel increases – some 300% over 10 years – has meant that the quest for efficiency is much more than enlightened self-interest and really a means to survive to fight another day.”
The current focus of ICS is helping to ensure that the existing technical and operational measures agreed by IMO are properly implemented. The desire of some governments to develop additional Market Based Measures remains very controversial. ICS believes that the high cost of fuel – set to increase again as the industry switches to low sulphur bunkers – already means that shipowners have every incentive they need to reduce CO2.
Mr Hinchliffe explained that many shipowners fear that the motives for developing MBMs seem to be largely political: linked to the high level debates at the UNFCCC climate talks, and more about generating monies from shipping rather than actually reducing emissions. But the priority of ICS was to help ensure that whatever is decided is agreed for global application by IMO. “ICS takes the view and has argued strongly that the only acceptable MBM – if one is required at all – is a fuel levy, ” he said.
However, the IMO debate on MBMs was “on hold” for the time being because the UNFCCC principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR), whereby developing nations wish to accept less ambitious carbon commitments, has yet to be reconciled with the IMO principle of uniform global rules applying to ships of all flags.
Mr Hinchliffe explained that the current focus of debate at IMO is the monitoring and reporting of individual ships’ CO2 emissions. ICS is pleased that IMO is now making progress on CO2 data collection and hopes that this will be compatible with the regional rules being developed by the European Union.
“We feel that measuring fuel consumption overall is a good thing and are fairly confident that we have a good story to tell” said Mr Hinchliffe.
However, ICS maintains concerns about what data collection from individual ships might ultimately be used for, and is opposed to the development of ship indexing based on operational indicators that might be used by governments to penalise older ships unfairly to raise money, leading to serious market distortion.
As well as addressing regulatory developments, Mr Hinchliffe drew attention to the growing need for the industry to take account of the impacts of climate change on shipping, given that extreme weather events appeared to be becoming more frequent.
“Currently ships are built to regulatory requirements upon a definition of North Atlantic winter conditions – these determine the strength of the ship, the thickness of steel, the spacing of strengthening beams and so on, ” said Mr Hinchliffe. “Will there come a time when the definition will have to be upgraded? If so how soon will that be, bearing in mind the 30 year design life of a ship?”
He added: “Very few port authorities are doing work to raise infrastructure – higher jetties, higher railway lines and roads – building with a 50 year timeframe in mind. But how many hydrographic offices are thinking about prioritising surveys to ensure that port approaches are surveyed ready for the requirement for new charts in 20 or 30 years’ time – or is it needed sooner than that?”