Slow steaming and caps on owners are solution to emissions says France

Paul Gunton
Paul Gunton

11 April 2019

According to a report by shipping and energy analyst S & P Global Platts, France's delegation to the IMO has proposed mandatory slow steaming as a means of cutting the shipping industry's greenhouse gas emissions.

France is suggesting that speed limits differentiated by shipping sector should be implemented "as soon as possible," according to a proposal document for the IMO's GHG emissions working group seen by S&P Global Platts.

The suggestion is aimed at implementing the IMO’s decarbonisation plan and targets set out at MEPC 72 last year. The IMO's initial strategy on GHG emissions seeks to cut the shipping industry's total GHG emissions by at least 50% from 2008 levels by 2050, and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions "per transport work" by at least 40% by 2030. Mandatory slow steaming could help reduce GHG emissions as a short-term measure while that technology is being developed. It would significantly reduce global bunker demand, as well as tightening global freight markets, as a reduction in speed for the global fleet effectively removes capacity from the market.

The article says that what remains unclear in the French proposal is how the IMO could prevent the shipping industry from responding by building more ships, thus negating the reduction in emissions. It also says that as a second step in the French proposal, to be implemented after 2023, the delegation suggests annual GHG emission limits for each shipowner.

France in conjunction with other nations has also submitted documents to MEPC 74 which takes place in May. One of these prepared in conjunction with Germany, Japan, Norway and Spain discusses limiting the limit the shaft/engine power while ensuring a sufficient safety power reserve in adverse weather conditions within the EEDI Rules.

Another document submitted jointly by Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain discusses the emission reduction potential of different measures that could be employed to meet the 2030 ambitions. This document does state that ‘the co-sponsors are aware that all these measures have different advantages and disadvantages, some of which have been extensively discussed in previous sessions of the Working Group on Reduction of GHG emissions from ships and MEPC. However, if the 2030 level of ambition is to be met, at least one of these measures needs to be adopted and implemented as a short-term measure. This would need to be accompanied by a mechanism to ensure that States, including developing countries, in particular LDCs and SIDS, which