More than 100 shipping companies have publicly supported mandatory speed limits for shipping, in order to reduce GHG emissions in an open letter to member states of IMO. Among others the signatories include Tsakos Shipping and Trading, Navios Maritime Holdings, and Dynagas, Euronav and Louis Dreyfus.
According to the letter:
The signatories to this letter unite in stressing the urgent need for shipping to make its appropriate contribution to addressing climate change. As the initial step we express our strong support for the IMO implementing mandatory regulation of global ship speeds differentiated across ship type and size categories.
In 2015 world governments agreed in Paris that global temperature rise must be limited to well below 2ºC, while aiming for 1.5ºC compared to pre-industrial levels. A recent IPCC 1.5º Special Report also suggested ‘deep emission reductions’ to achieve these temperature goals.
Responding to this global challenge, the IMO agreed in April 2018 on an Initial GHG Strategy for international shipping. The strategy calls for shipping emissions to peak as soon as possible, for shipping’s carbon intensity to be decreased by at least 40% by 2030 and for total emissions to be cut by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, while aiming for full decarbonisation.
To do so, new operational measures are necessary for both the current fleet and new ships and immediate reductions achieved by 2023.
The signatories added that since April 2018, several candidate measures have been proposed including speed regulation for all ships.
Recent history shows that reducing the global fleet’s operational speed after the 2008 economic crash led to dramatic reductions in GHG emissions. This speaks to the real-world effectiveness of a potential prescriptive speed measure in helping achieve reduction targets
However, they explained that recent studies suggest that vessels are increasing their speed as global demand increased. If this continues, any GHG gains from slow steaming over recent years will disappear, the mention.
In addition, the state that their preference would be a maximum annual average speeds for container ships, and maximum absolute speeds for the remaining ship types, which consider the minimum speed requirements. Such a regulation should be implemented as soon as possible and the obligation for compliance should be placed both on shipowners and operators, including charterers.
We call on all Parties at the forthcoming MEPC74 to support this move
The letter concludes.
On the other side, the UK Chamber of Shipping takes a look at a proposal to reduce emissions, which is speed reduction. The Chamber comments that this idea is not new to the IMO, but until now it has not been accepted, as it would directly impact worldwide trade.
This proposal may have a positive intention, but it does not match the risk leaving gaps in the IMO’s decarbonisation plan, while its implementation and enforcement are also problematic, the UK Chamber of Shipping notes.