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  • ‘Weak’ ship fuel efficiency targets not driving improvements

    Newly-built ships covered by the design fuel efficiency standard have much the same efficiency performance as those not covered, according to a new independent study. This is because the current targets are too weak, say T&E.

    The International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) design fuel efficiency standard – known as the EEDI – is not stimulating the uptake of new technologies or driving efficiency improvements, finds the report by CE Delft. At least two-thirds of containerships, half of general cargo ships and a quarter of tankers launched in 2015 already overshoot the requirement for 2020 without using innovative new technologies.

    T&E and Seas at Risk (SAR), the NGOs which commissioned the study, said this shows that the standard will not encourage uptake of new technologies, but only prevent a return to the worst designs of the past. T-he efficiency gains recorded are part of a recognised historical trend for ship design efficiency to fluctuate according to economic cycles and fuel prices.

    The IMO is currently reviewing the standard but this is in danger of being shut down without any strengthening of the efficiency targets. The ease with which ships over-comply exposes the weakness of the targets and the urgent need for continuing the review when the IMO’s environment committee meets from 18-22 April and tightening the requirements, said T&E and SAR,

    T&E’s shipping policy officer, Sotiris Raptis, said: ‘The tightening of requirements for the design efficiency of new ships is the first test of the IMO’s climate ambition after Paris. Missing this boat until the next review in six years’ time would seriously undermine the efforts of countries that committed to strive towards the 1.5 degrees target. Those countries that supported the Paris Agreement, not least EU countries, should not stand by and see this ambition set aside at IMO.’

    While reducing design speed is a very effective way of improving efficiency, the study also found that there has only been a modest reduction in the average design speed of new vessels, and that is largely limited to container ships. So with efficiency improvements via new technologies and speed reduction largely untapped, there remains considerable potential for further design efficiency improvements. But these will not be taken up unless the IMO incentivises them through a stricter EEDI requirement, said T&E and SAR.