Almost three-quarters of new containerships already meet 2025 energy efficiency requirement

Almost three-quarters of new containerships launched since 2013 already comply with post-2025 design efficiency requirements of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), a new study reveals. Containerships emit around a quarter of global ship CO2 emissions, but the best 10% of new containerships are already almost twice as efficient as the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) requirement for 10 years time.

T&E, which conducted the study based on IMO’s official data, said the EEDI was clearly too weak to drive efficiency improvements in new ships. T&E’s shipping officer, Faig Abbasov, said: ‘This new analysis using official IMO data confirms earlier findings presented to the IMO by environmental groups: the energy efficiency standard is not fit for purpose to drive better designs or technological innovation.

‘Ship owners, represented by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and BIMCO, have opposed tighter standards as part of efforts to drain all ambition out of IMO discussions on how shipping can decarbonise. Strengthening the EEDI is the lowest of low hanging fruit. If the IMO can’t take timely action on this issue because of industry opposition, how can it be expected to deliver an adequate response to the Paris Agreement?’

The shipping sector is one of the fastest growing sources of CO2 and will be responsible for more than 17% of global emissions by 2050 if no action is taken. Despite this, the ICS and BIMCO are claiming that the sector cannot accept any “commitment or intention to place a binding cap on either the international shipping sector’s total CO2 emissions or the CO2 emissions of individual ships”. ICS has argued that a lack of zero/low carbon technologies is the main obstacle. Yet less than 1% of the 2,500 new ships analysed in this study reported using even innovative energy efficiency technologies that are already available.

The study analysed ship types accounting for two-thirds of ship CO2 emissions and found that in addition to containerships, 69% of general cargo ships, 26% of new tankers and 13% of gas carriers exceed the EEDI’s 2025 requirements 10 years ahead of schedule. In general, the 10% best performing general cargo ships, tankers and gas carriers are respectively 57%, 35% and 42% more efficient than was required by the EEDI in the period 2013-2015.

T&E, which is part of the Clean Shipping Coalition, said that the performance of the best ships in the fleet would be a good place to start when revising existing or setting new EEDI requirements.

Meanwhile, a separate study found that greenhouse gas emissions from three ship types – containerships, bulkers and tankers – could be reduced by a third, on average, by reducing their speed. The cumulative savings from reducing the speed of these ships alone could, by 2030, be as much as 12% of shipping’s total remaining carbon budget if the world is to stay under the 1.5ºC global temperature rise.

The study, carried out by CE Delft for T&E and Seas At Risk found that reducing operational speed would also provide a boost to jobs and growth in shipbuilding nations as new builds could grow by over 30% in order to maintain transport capacity for global trade. The study also concludes that the additional costs of slow steaming on exports such as oilcake and beef from Latin America would be marginal, and this is without accounting for lower transport fuel costs.

T&E’s shipping director, Bill Hemmings, said: ‘Shipping is the only international sector that has yet to commit to a global emissions reduction target or measures. Talks at the IMO are expected to be challenging as the industry body, ICS, is on record as opposing every reduction measure so far put forward – including binding reduction targets, the need to tighten design standards or have operational efficiency measures. But industry itself showed clearly that slow steaming works. It proved effective in weathering the economic crisis, so the IMO should now agree mandatory speed measures to achieve the substantial emissions reductions needed to start decarbonisation.’

The analysed ship types cumulatively account for around 52% of global shipping’s carbon footprint. Substantial additional savings will be made when the speed of the remainder of the fleet is also reduced.

The findings were discussed by the IMO last week as it met for the second time to develop its initial 2018 greenhouse gas reduction strategy. The UN discussions in London concentrated on a global emissions reduction target and potential measures for the sector. Regulating ship speed is one of the short-term measures on the table that can be implemented immediately. The IMO is under huge pressure to deliver an effective and adequate response to the Paris agreement and global climate efforts.