How GHG emissions can be lowered for shipping

It seems so logical but a recent study shows the significant impact on reducing GHG emissions inshipping simply by sailing slower. Josh Barrie explains in an article on the i news website. Even the Dutch are now having speeds reduced for vehicles on motorways.


Making ships go 20% slower could cut greenhouse gases and reduce whale collisions, new study finds

Reducing the speed of ships could help cut greenhouse gasses by 20 per cent, according to a new report.

The study, by the campaign groups Seas at Risk and Transport & Environment, said cutting nautical speed limits could have massive benefits for humans, nature, and the climate.

As well as emissions, the move would also help curb pollutants, which have a significant impact on the health of humans and animal life, the organisation said.

Seas at Risk added that slower speeds could also decrease underwater noise by 66 per cent and in turn reduce the chance of collisions with whales.

The proposals will be discussed by UN negotiators in London this week.

Huge emissions

Ships transport about 80 per cent of the world’s goods and are responsible for creating a significant portion of the world’s greenhouse gases.

The slower that ships travel, the less fuel they need to burn in order to transport goods.

Maritime trading operations generate as much as three per cent of the total gases globally, approximately the same figure emitted by Germany.

Shipping was not factored into the Paris climate agreement, but the industry did last year agree to reduce emissions by 50 per cent by the year 2050.

The report has concluded that cutting ship speeds by 20 per cent would reduce sulphur and nitrogen oxides by around 24 per cent, while other harmful emissions like black carbon – tiny black particles contained in the smoke exhausts – would also decrease.

‘It’s a massive win’

A number of shipping companies have come out in favour of slowing down, though not all.

Campaigners are positive corporations will put the environment first, however.

In 2008, following the global financial crisis, cargo ships travelled at slower speeds to cut down on costs. Speeds dropped by around 12 per cent, which cut fuel consumption by 27 per cent.

“It’s a massive win,” John Maggs from Seas at Risk told BBC News.

“We’ve got a win from a climate point of view, we’ve got a win from a human health point of view, we’ve got a win for marine nature, we’ve got a potential safety gain, and up to a certain point we are saving the shipping industry money.

“It is also of course by far the simplest of the regulatory options. Thanks to satellites and transponders on commercial vessels it really is quite easy to track their movements and the speed they are travelling.”

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