More than 100 maritime industry chief executives have written an open letter to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) urging it to impose a speed limit on commercial vessels to cut emissions and protect the environment.
In the letter, the signatories say there is an “urgent need” to address global temperature rises, and that limiting vessels’ speeds will help.
They add that their preference is for container ships to have a maximum speed averaged across a year – allowing exporters of perishable goods to travel faster during peak seasons – while other ships should have a fixed maximum at all times.
The letter also warns that “recent studies suggest ships are speeding up again as global demand recovers – should this trend continue, any GHG gains from slow steaming over recent years will disappear.”
Following the global financial crisis, many ships did reduce their speeds due to decreased trade, known as 'slow steaming', which had the side effect of reducing GHG emissions as ships burnt less fuel.
Data shows that in 2015, container ships with capacity between 12,000 TEU and 14,500 TEU had an average cruising speed of 16 knots – down from 20.6 knots in 2007.
In April 2018, the IMO set a target for GHG emissions from international shipping to peak as soon as possible and then to be reduced by at least 50 per cent by 2050 compared with 2008.
It has also adopted a limit on the level of sulphur in ships’ fuel oil from 3.5 to 0.5 per cent from January 1 2020.
“A regulation should be implemented as soon as possible and the obligation for compliance should be placed both on ship owners and operators, including charterers,” the letter states.