French president, Emmanuel Macron, used the recent G7 summit in Biaritz, to promote slow steaming for shipping – an idea he said he was keen to discuss with other world leaders at the event.
“Very solemnly, for the first time, we will engage with shipping companies to reduce the speed of commercial ships,” he said in a formal speech as the summit began.
“It is one of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally and this measure would be a real change.”
It is believed that Macron has already asked Rodolphe Saade, chairman of Marseille’s CMA CGM, to lead a new green shipping lobbying group.
Earlier this year, France made a submission to the IMO urging a global speed limit for shipping in order to reduce marine sector emissions.
Macron’s declaration has been publically supported by Greece, and the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) which says that slow steaming is the best short-term tool because “no truly carbon neutral” fuels exist yet.
“Even if there are regulatory complications, slow-steaming and speed optimisation should be considered as options to comply with the IMO’s CO2 reduction targets by 2030,” said an ABS statement. “In the recent commercial environment, where low charter and freight rates were the norm, slow-steaming reduced the overall CO2 output from shipping.”
However, BIMCO and the International Chamber of Shipping have both said they are firmly against the idea.
They are joined by the European Community Shipowners Association, which has said: “The shipping industry is very diversified, and mandatory speed reduction might have different, and perhaps unwanted, consequences.”
According to the UK Chamber of Shipping’s policy director, Anna Ziou, slow steaming would give a “false impression” of what the industry really needs to do to reduce emissions.
“To achieve a 50% cut in emissions, the shipping industry needs continued investment in green technologies, which would allow ships to conduct their business through a range of low-carbon fuels, such as battery power, hydrogen fuel cells or even wind power,” she argues.
Hapag-Lloyd has said that speed reductions “would not be a good solution”.