Shipping plays its part in global climate effort and IMO leads

Later this year, parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will meet first in Bonn and then in Paris for discussions that will be pivotal for the sustainable future of mankind. Everyone must play a part in this effort – no industry or sector can be excluded, and that applies to shipping, too. As the industry that physically delivers around 90 per cent of global trade, and a key driver of the world’s economic engine, it is incumbent on shipping to make its own contribution.

For decades, the member nations of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have exercised strong and decisive leadership in creating the legal and technical framework within which shipping has become progressively cleaner, greener and safer – while continuing to provide the world with a cost-effective way to transport the goods and commodities that underpin the global economy and sustain global society.

The need to reduce emissions from ships has been clearly understood by the IMO. It has led the way in steering the shipping industry towards a clean, sustainable future. Efforts to reduce airborne emissions from ships took a major step forward in 1997, with the adoption of the Protocol to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, known as MARPOL Annex VI, which currently regulates air emissions from 95.4% of the worlds’ shipping tonnage. And work to build on the success of 1997 is already well underway. Further, more stringent global measures to reduce emissions from individual ships by 30 per cent by 2030 established through amendments to MARPOL Annex VI are now in force.

These efforts are working. Through compliance with these IMO regulations, international shipping has taken a genuine leadership role in mitigating its contribution to climate change.

According to figures contained in IMO’s most recent study of greenhouse gas emissions, during the five years to 2012 the total contribution from international shipping to global emissions actually reduced from 2.8 percent to 2.2 percent. This was despite significant overall growth in seaborne trade and a corresponding growth in cargo-carrying capacity during the same period. So, it is clear that through compliance with IMO regulations, shipping can grow with the global economy and reduce emissions at the same time.