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International Transport Emissions – Maritime Perspective

December 3, 2014

On Day 1 of COP, Lastrina and I attended this side event entitled “International aviation and maritime transport: Addressing emissions from international bunker fuels”.  Dr Edmund Hughes, Head, Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency, International Maritime Organization (IMO), delivered a succinct overview of international maritime transport greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Some fun facts and key takeaways from the session: IMO’s efforts to addresses ship emissions include technical and operational measures such as the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) – mandatory for new ships – and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for all ships.  In brief, the EEDI can be defined as “a vessel’s impact on the environment / benefit to society”.  The EEDI applies to 85% of ships and is likely to promote greener innovation at the ship design stage. SEEMP, on the other hand, is an operational management tool as it is about what ships can do when in operation – i.e. how to improve the energy efficiency of a ship in a cost-effective manner. From 2007 to 2012, there was a decrease in carbon dioxide emissions from international shipping both (i) in absolute terms; and (ii) as a percentage of global carbon dioxide emissions (from 2.8% to 2.2%). The advent of slow steaming (i.e. a decrease in operating speed of ships) has brought about significant reductions in average daily fuel consumption for vessels. In addition, the new generation of mega vessels promises to usher in more energy efficient shipping.  FUN FACT: the Maersk Triple E vessel, a 400m mega vessel (it’s length is longer than the height of the Eiffel Tower) can move 1 tonne of cargo 184km using 1 kilowatt hour of energy.  For the same amount of energy, a Boeing 747 plane would only be able to move the 1 tonne of cargo by 0.5km.  Amazing, isn’t it!  While it is great that the aviation industry has been making great inroads into biofuels as the green fuel for future planes, the energy efficiency of maritime transport is often overlooked and understated. IMO logo

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