Cutting carbon: Can technology keep up with regulators’ ambitions?

Paul Gunton

Paul Gunton · 10 December 2019


IMO has set ambitious goals to reduce carbon emissions but with shipping a long-term business, are new technologies arriving quickly enough to meet them? That is the question ShipInsight will be putting to panellists taking part in one of the sessions on Day 1 of its annual conference on 26-27 February 2020, titled A Global Transition.

IMO’s own summary of its policy on GHG emissions underlines the size of the task. It quotes the organisation’s third GHG Study, published in 2014, which predicted that “emissions from international shipping could grow between 50% and 250% by 2050 [compared with 2012] mainly due to the growth of the world maritime trade.” Yet its well-known target is that GHG emissions from international shipping should reach a peak “as soon as possible and to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008.”


Assuming that 2008 emissions were less than 2012’s, and given the divergent estimates of the trend to 2050, IMO’s target is brave. Is it over-optimistic and what technology will be needed to match its ambition?

A fourth GHG study was commissioned on 8 November from consultant CE Delft, with a deadline for a final report to be delivered by 17 July 2020 [MEPC 75/7/3; you will need to log into IMODOCS to follow that link]. A progress report has to be completed by 31 January, just a few weeks before ShipInsight’s conference.

When finished, the report will include an inventory of global emissions of GHG emissions from international shipping from 2012 to 2018 and scenarios for future international shipping emissions in the period 2018-2050 and the conference will provide an opportunity for delegates to consider what those scenarios might contain.

IMO is not the only organisation looking at carbon emissions from ships. The European Union, for example, has had a strategy in place since 2013 that is now having some practical impacts on ship operators. The conference will be a timely moment to exchange views about their first emissions reports and documents of compliance, whose deadlines fall on 30 April and 30 June 2020.

A panel of experts on Day 1 of the conference will these developments and more. In a discussion-led format, they will be guided by points made and questions asked by delegates during the session. Register now to be part of that debate.

• The second ShipInsight annual conference will be held in London on 26-27 February 2020 in a venue close to IMO’s headquarters. Programme details will be updated as panellists are confirmed. Day 1 will focus on fuel choices and other technical topics; Day 2 on communications, navigation, digitalisation and future technologies.

To make the conference particularly relevant, it will be possible to book for either or both days. Bookings are being taken now and ShipInsight readers should reserve their places online to be sure of taking part in the second ShipInsight annual conference.

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