The IMarEST is alarmed to learn from IMO’s latest official study that greenhouse gas emissions from shipping have increased by almost 10% from 2012 levels - and are expected to rise further - at a time when action on climate change is needed more urgently than ever.
According to IMO’s Fourth Study into Greenhouse Gases published this week, the total emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide from seagoing vessels (including international and domestic shipping and fishing) have risen by 9.6% from 977 million tonnes in 2012 to 1.076 billion tonnes in 2018.
The increase is even more pronounced if the improved analytical methods used in this study are applied to data stretching back to 2008 - the baseline year for IMO’s plan to halve GHG emissions from shipping by 2050.
IMarEST Policy Director, Bev MacKenzie, says the findings paint a very worrying picture: “Despite all the rhetoric about cleaning up its act, it seems the shipping industry has entered reverse gear as far as GHG emissions are concerned.”
She elaborates: “The risks of climate change are no longer theoretical. From wildfires in California to melting tundra in Siberia, from sinking Pacific islands to ocean acidification, global warming is already having devastating impacts on the planet and on people.
“IMarEST has long called for action to reduce GHG emissions from shipping and across the whole marine domain. It’s therefore extremely disappointing to see research commissioned by IMO showing that shipping is today making a greater contribution to the global GHG budget than it was six years previously.”
While the Covid-19 pandemic will probably cause a temporary dip in emissions in 2020, it is unlikely to affect the long-term upward trend as long as a ‘business as usual’ mindset persists. The findings underscore the urgency with which the shipping industry must push forward with the development of radical solutions that will enable a transition to zero-carbon fuels and technologies.
IMarEST is supporting these efforts through its special interest group on marine fuels and emissions, which is exploring the potential of new approaches in terms of their technical and commercial feasibility as well as from a regulatory perspective. SIG co-chair Dr Gillian Reynolds said: “The significant increase in GHG emissions from shipping between 2012 and 2018 reinforces the need for rapid and effective action to reduce GHG emissions.”