We’ve told you this before, but in case you need a reminder: If global shipping were a country, it would be the sixth largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions. Only the United States, China, Russia, India and Japan emit more carbon dioxide than the world’s shipping fleet. Nevertheless, this country-sized amount of carbon dioxide remains unregulated.
Like all modes of transportation that use fossil fuels, ships produce carbon dioxide emissions that significantly contribute to global climate change and ocean acidification. Besides carbon dioxide, ships also release a handful of other pollutants that contribute to environmental degradation. More than three percent of global carbon dioxide emissions can be attributed to ocean-going ships, a number that can be greatly reduced if emission regulations were set.
Oceana recently released a new report called Shipping Solutions – just in time for the Sustainable Shipping meeting in October. At the meeting, Oceana’s senior campaign director Jackie Savitz spoke to a room full of shipping industry executives to call for increased shipping emission regulations, and present the many different ways these reductions can be achieved.
Oceana’s new report outlines the operational and technical measures that can be used to reduce shipping emissions. These measures can have an almost immediate effect on emission reductions, and a reduction of 33 percent below the business-as-usual baseline could be attained at absolutely no cost.
Many of the solutions are simple, such as reducing the speed at which ships travel. In addition, improved voyage routing techniques can be used, like planning voyages around the weather, as well as just-in-time arrival to the port so that idling emissions are reduced.
Maintaining or updating various components of ships (such as the propeller, hull and propulsion system) would increase fuel efficiency, and utilizing paints and hull coatings that minimize roughness would decrease resistance through the water. Finally, updating automatic controls throughout a ship and using waste heat from the exhaust to generate electricity or help propel the vessel can reduce fuel use.
All of these solutions are readily available, most are fairly simple alternations, and some can even be completed at no cost or a cost savings. Most importantly, they are all necessary measures to reduce the climate change causing carbon dioxide from this sixth largest emitting “nation” – the shipping industry.