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  • Report suggests win-win opportunity for ship owners and the environment

    The most effective way to reduce carbon emissions from shipping is also the most economic. That is the message from a new study commissioned by T&E and Seas at Risk (SAR) that looks at monitoring and reducing maritime emissions. It says ship operators could save €5-9 million a year if they invested in 21st-century technology.

    Shipping is the only industry that does not have greenhouse gas reduction measures set by the EU, but the Commission’s latest proposal is only for monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of fuel consumption. While some ship operators are using automated systems such as fuel-flow meters or continuous emissions monitoring, many are still basing their monitoring on paper fuel receipts, which are unreliable and prone to error. Yet the Commission proposal still allows shippers to use fuel receipts as an emissions-monitoring tool.
    To show how those ship operators who use fuel purchase receipts (known as bunker delivery notes or BDN) are missing out, T&E and SAR asked the Dutch consultancy CE Delft to look at what savings are offered by advanced monitoring systems. CE Delft’s report, published on 9 January, found that if ship owners invested in more accurate fuel-use monitoring methods, they would indeed have higher investment costs. But their operational MRV costs would decline because data could be collected and processed electronically, without requiring extra labour. It says the savings after investment would be €5-9m a year.
    ‘This is one of those measures that makes economic and environmental sense,’ said T&E’s shipping officer Aoife O’Leary. ‘It’s a win-win opportunity which mustn’t be missed because of investment costs. When GPS systems became available to massively improve the accuracy of ship navigation, no ship owner turned a blind eye to the technology just because of an upfront capital cost. So, why should the Commission favour the use of inaccurate old-fashioned paper receipts when it could promote accurate, real-time fuel monitoring systems, enabling real emissions reductions?’
    The Commission says its MRV proposal, published last summer, could cut carbon dioxide emissions from shipping by 2%, but the CE Delft report ‘Economic impacts of MRV of fuel and emissions in maritime transport’ says modern monitoring systems have the potential to save a lot more CO2. This is because accurate data enables ship operators to implement concrete measures to reduce CO2 emissions. The technologies are also able to monitor and report such pollutants as sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides, thereby helping the fight against air pollution from international shipping, of which SOx and NOx emissions are a big part. The systems could also lower the cost of complying with international shipping air pollution standards, such as the 2015 sulphur limits.
    O’Leary added: ‘MEPs of the Parliament’s Environment Committee voted this week on the MRV proposal. They seized the important opportunity to include harmful NOx emissions in this monitoring law. It’s clever and cost-effective to monitor all air pollutants, including SOx and NOx, at once. However, MEPs rejected the chance to use ship efficiency as an accurate measure of emissions, which is the key to improving the sector’s environmental performance. Member States must now tighten the Commission’s proposal by mandating advanced, accurate forms of fuel monitoring.’