Almost every Christmas gift you gave or received two months ago was transported vast distances across the ocean, spending weeks inside a shipping container. What powers these epic journeys across the globe? Unfortunately, it’s not reindeers. It’s the black, sludgy dregs of the refining process known as heavy fuel oil. Each tonne, when burned, releases several thousand times the amount of sulphur and tiny lung-damaging particles that petrol or diesel cars do, while also contributing to dangerous climate change.
Moves to close a loophole in enforcement of the cap on high-sulphur marine fuel, which comes into effect in January 2020, have been welcomed by the Clean Shipping Coalition (CSC). Ships will be banned at that time from burning any marine fuel with a sulphur content above 0.5%, but the ban does not prevent ships from carrying fuel exceeding the 0.5% limit. This opens up the possibility of massive avoidance by unscrupulous operators when operating out of sight on the high seas.
Leading shipping industry and environmental organisations have added their support to the growing calls for a ban on carrying shipping fuel that does not meet new sulphur content regulations. The signatories, which include T&E, say making it an offence to carry non-compliant high-sulphur shipping fuel would be the easiest and most effective way to enforce the ban on such fuel being burned at sea.
A Dutch shipbuilding company says it will start operating electricity-powered container ships in August. The barges, which can run without any crew, are powered by seven-metre battery packs charged up on land. The company says use of the barges between three Dutch ports will take around 23,000 trucks off the roads.
Leading environmental organisations and the global shipping industry have joined in calling for an explicit prohibition on the carriage of non-compliant marine fuels when the global 0.5% sulphur cap takes effect in 2020.
Some 35 world leaders have called for shipping emissions to be part of every country’s emissions reductions commitments under the Paris climate agreement. Sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) welcomed the leaders’ recognition of the need for economy-wide action, as mandated by the 2015 accord, with shipping being a key sector – responsible for around 3% of global CO2 emissions.
A report by two respected climate scientists says the EU’s plans for natural gas as an energy source are incompatible with its commitment to the 2015 Paris climate accord. The report’s authors say Europe has just nine years left to burn fossil fuels at the current rate if global temperatures are to stay below a 2°C increase.
The EU has confirmed its intention to include shipping in its emissions trading system (ETS) if the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) does not deliver effective global measures to reduce emissions from ships by 2023. Both T&E and the shipping industry said the outcome was a partial victory.