Shipping emissions predicted to rise by up to 250% by 2050

Global shipping emissions are predicted to increase by between 50% and 250% by 2050 – depending on future economic and energy developments, according to the European Commission.

In line with the EU’s calls for a global approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, since the beginning of the year, large ships using EU ports have been required to report their verified annual emissions and other relevant information.

Official data from the European Commission states that maritime transport emits around one billion tonnes of CO2 annually – and is responsible for about 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

As such, this is not compatible with the internationally-agreed goal of keeping global temperature increase to below 2° compared to pre-industrial levels, which requires worldwide emissions to be at least halved from 1990 levels by 2050.

‘Greater strides’

Last week, on episode nine of FarmLand, independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice raised concerns over how rural indigenous industries – particularly agriculture and the peat industry – are being impacted by efforts to meet Ireland’s carbon emission reduction and renewable energy targets.

The Galway-Roscommon representative is of the opinion that “greater strides” could be made in other international sectors – particularly transport – to tackle the globe’s carbon emission challenges.

He was speaking just days after Bord na Mona’s unexpected announcement that it plans to completely stop peat harvesting in 2025 – five years ahead of its initial deadline of 2030 – as part of its latest decarbonisation agenda.

Also Read: ‘Peat industry closure will lead to crazy biomass import bills’

Deputy Fitzmaurice claims the looming closure of the peat industry in Ireland will lead to costly hikes in biomass imports to Ireland to co-fire at the country’s electricity power stations in Co. Offaly and Co. Longford.

He argues that in light of an extremely domestic supply of biomass, and known difficulties when it comes to farmers growing biomass – including willow – the country will end up being forced to import the product which, he claims, will ultimately lead to the displacement of emissions from the peat sector into the transport sector via shipping.

“I know of cases where farmers are digging up willow because it wasn’t worth doing; and I am seeing at the moment that we are going to go even as far as Australia to get woodchip.

“I hear we are going to chip it there, put it on a boat, bring it into a factory, bring it on a lorry to a port, bring it to the different ports and haul it then on a lorry – are we gone crazy in this country?

“It’s the same world we all live in – if we cut down the trees somewhere else it’s the same world that the alleged carbon is being emitted to,” said deputy Fitzmaurice.

Achieving reductions

The European Commission has stated that ships’ energy consumption and CO2 emissions could be reduced by up to 75% by applying operational measures and implementing existing technologies.

The commission stated that many of these measures are “cost-effective and offer net benefits”, as reduced fuel bills ensure the pay-back of any operational or investment costs.

It contends that further reductions could be achieved by implementing new innovative technologies.

The EU and its member states have a strong preference for a global approach led by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as this will be most effective.

Considerable efforts to agree such an approach have been made over recent years within both the IMO and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – also with a view to ensure a fair contribution of the sector to the objective of the Paris agreement to limit the average increase of the temperatures to +1.5°.

The commission’s 2011 white paper on transport suggests that the EU’s CO2 emissions from maritime transport should be cut by at least 40% from 2005 levels by 2050, and if feasible by 50%.

However, international shipping is not covered by the EU’s current emissions reduction targets.

In 2013, the commission set out a strategy for progressively integrating maritime emissions into the EU’s policy for reducing its domestic greenhouse gas emissions.

The strategy consists of three consecutive steps:
  • Monitoring, reporting and verification of CO2 emissions from large ships using EU ports;
  • Greenhouse gas reduction targets for the maritime transport sector;
  • And further measures, including market-based measures, in the medium to long term.