Shipping sector claims major progress on increasing energy efficiency as it prepares for UNFCCC Copenhagen
Thu 19 Mar 2009 – Like its civil aviation sister UN agency ICAO, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has been tasked with coming up with a global strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its sector. IMO claims major progress was made last week when its Working Group on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships met last week to discuss technical and operational energy efficiency measures for new and existing ships. The development of possible market-based instruments, such as emissions trading, will be debated at a further meeting in July.
The working group meeting, attended by more than 200 international experts, considered a large number of papers from Member States and observer organizations on how to increase fuel efficiency in the world fleet.
The main focus was the further refinement of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships, on the basis of experience gained through its trial application over the past six months. The EEDI is meant to stimulate innovation and technical development of all the elements influencing the energy efficiency of a ship, thus making it possible to design and build intrinsically energy efficient ships of the future.
The group also considered how to improve the Energy Efficiency Operational Index (EEOI), which enables operators to measure the fuel efficiency of an existing ship and, therefore, to gauge the effectiveness of any measures adopted to reduce energy consumption. The EEOI has been applied by Member States and the shipping industry on a trial basis since 2005 to hundreds of ships in operation. The index provides a figure, expressed in grams of CO2 per tonne mile, for the efficiency of a specific ship, enabling comparison of its energy or fuel efficiency to similar ships.
The meeting debated over a draft Ship Energy Management Plan that incorporates guidance on best practices, which include improved voyage planning, speed and power optimization, optimized ship handling, improved fleet management and cargo handling, as well as energy management for individual ships.
The working group will now report to IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) when it meets in July. At this meeting, possible market-based instruments for the sector will be debated. The outcome of the meeting will then be presented to the UNFCCC conference in Copenhagen in December, where there will be moves to include both international shipping and aviation in a new post-2012 climate change mitigation framework.
Shipping accounts for around 3% of global CO2 emissions, slightly higher than those from aviation.
According to a new study by researchers in the United States, international commercial shipping emit almost half as much particulate pollution as the total amount released by cars. Not only do ship pollutants affect the climate, they also impact the health of people living along coastlines, reports Environmentalresearchweb.com.
The study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, is the first to provide a global estimate of maritime shipping’s total contribution to air particle pollution based on direct measurements of emissions. The authors estimate that worldwide, ships emit 0.9 teragrams, or about 2.2 million pounds, of particulates each year. Shipping also contributes almost 30% of smog-forming nitrogen oxide gases.
The lead author, Daniel Lack of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory, says that since more than 70% of shipping takes place within 250 miles of the coastline, this was a significant health concern for coastal communities.
Particulate pollution and carbon dioxide have opposite effects on the climate, with particles having a cooling effect at least five times greater than the global warming effect from ship’s CO2 emissions, says Lack.