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Shipping Industry to be Regulated for Energy Efficiency and Carbon Emissions

The United Nations approves new rules that mandate energy efficiency and carbon emissions improvements for the shipping industry.

Roughly 50,000 ships carry 90 percent of the worlds trade cargo every year, and unbeknownst to most, these ships tend to run on a heavily polluting oil known as bunker fuel.  The United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) has decided to regulate both seafaring cargo and transport vessels to meet new energy efficiency and carbon emission guidelines.  Unlike attempts by the U.N. to regulate carbon emissions in other sectors, this new set of rules will be applied equally to all U.N. countries regardless of whether they are industrialized or developing.

According to the IMO, shipping was responsible for 2.7 percent of global carbon emissions in 2007, but that could double or even triple by mid-century if no action is taken now.

The IMO’s Environmental Protection Committee concluded at a weeklong meeting that all ships built in the future must reduce pollution from today’s averages.  The levels of
emissions reduction will be based on an efficiency index for ships of varying sizes and types. 

The mandates state that shipbuilders may decide exactly how to meet the new standards.

“As long as the required energy-efficiency level is attained, ship designers and builders would be free to use the most cost-efficient solutions for the ship to comply with the regulations,” the resolution said.

“This is a very positive and important first step for a truly global, binding measure to reduce CO2 emissions,” Connie Hedegaard, the European commissioner on climate action, said from Brussels.

The new rules mandate that ships contracted in the first five years after 2015 must improve fuel efficiency by 10 percent.  The standards are to be tightened every subsequent five years.  By 2030, a 30 percent reduction rate would be set for most types of ships, based on the average of those built between 1999 to 2009.

The committee is also debating on whether to charge ships for carbon emissions, however, the delegation cannot yet agree on how such taxes would be spent.

By. John Shimkus of Energy Digital




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  • Anonymous on July 20 2011 said:
    I believe the UN IMO (like perhaps, the United Nations as a whole) ought to go out of business and disband. The shipping industry has, or ought to have, adequate free-market financial incentives to transport cargo from A to B with the lowest fuel consumption possible, without compromising speed too much. As it is, I have heard that cargo ships tend to be slower than what they may have been in the past owing to fuel consumption considerations. I suggest that if marine fuels aren't costly enough to provide said free-market incentives, they should be subject to a carbon tax (as should, for that matter, petroleum-derived motor vehicle and aviation fuels).Here's a thought: If reducing carbon dioxide is that important, the merchant shipping industry should build and operate nuclear ships.

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