Oceana calls for effective policies to reduce CO2 shipping emissions

Shipping has been responsible for up to 1 billion tons of CO2 emissions in a single year.

Press Release Date: May 19, 2011

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: mmadina@oceana.org | tel.: Marta Madina

Measures proposed by Oceana can help reduce global warming and ocean sea acidification caused by carbon dioxide.

Today at European Maritime Day, Oceana called for the implementation of effective policies to ensure the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from European fleets. The international marine conservation organization highlighted the critical importance of addressing the issue of maritime traffic in tackling climate change. Indeed, if the global shipping fleet were a nation it would be the sixth largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, surpassed only by China, USA, Russia, India and Japan.

Shipping was responsible for over 1 billion tons of CO2 emissions in 2007, and the International Marine Organization (IMO) calculates that if no reduction policies are established these emission levels could double or triple by 2050. That said, the IMO recognizes that the global fleet can become between 25 and 75 percent more efficient if operational and technological measures are implemented to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Currently, up to 90% of the fuel used by vessels can be lost as heat or exhaust and does not contribute to propulsion, which shows the urgency of introducing and updating on an ongoing basis such measures.

“Global trade is growing at a fast pace and unfortunately, so is its carbon footprint. There are however technologies available today that can be implemented into new ships to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. In the case of older cargo vessels, aged 30 or 40 years, some measures like slow steaming, ballast optimization and on-time port arrivals that prevent idling, can easily be put in place”, explained Anne Schroeer, economist and Baltic Sea Project Manager at Oceana.

Marine life is particularly at-risk from these emissions, since oceans absorb 80% of the heat generated by greenhouse gases and 30% of CO2 emissions. This process relieves climate change at the global scale, but in exchange it threatens marine wildlife and ecosystems.  Warmer waters are disrupting ecosystems and ocean circulation, while acidity caused by the absorption of CO2 into sea waters makes it difficult for many organisms to create their shells and skeletal structures. Fisheries and the many livelihoods that depend on the industry will become further jeopardized unless urgent, effective measures to reduce emissions are implemented.

The IMO is not setting a carbon dioxide reduction target since 14 years. Oceana supports the European Union to act and introduce caps on CO2 emissions from ships. Shipping efficiency not only means saving fuel and reducing costs, but also implies preserving sea species and their habitats”, added Schroeer.

Learn more: Shipping Solutions