GLOBAL shipping contributes about a billion tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere each year- more than the entire economies of Germany or the UK - but moving cargo by sea is far more efficient than by air.
MMU’s Centre for Air Transport and the Environment (CATE) contributed to a multi-organisation report that was recently accepted by 400 member states of the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee and presented to the press at its World Maritime Day on 24 September.
Professor David Lee, Director of CATE and one of the authors of the report, told a press conference in London: "This is a landmark report that defines the shipping sector’s emissions and climate impacts, and outlines future emissions scenarios."
Professor Lee has calculated the climate impact of shipping with colleague Professor Veronika Eyring of the German Aerospace Center. He said: "Shipping represents 3.3% of global CO2 emissions per year and it is important that they are reduced as they are projected to represent 12-18% of annual emissions in 2050 if we are to stabilise the climate. Such a massive slice of the emissions output may be untenable when other industries such as the aviation industry are projecting an emissions share of similar proportions."
The role of shipping emissions is due to be discussed at the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen this December when the independent report*, an important piece of evidence-based research, will be presented.
There are two proposals on the table for the IMO. One from Germany, Norway and France is for a cap-and-trade system designed to limit emissions by making ship owners pay a price for their pollution – like the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. The second proposal, from Denmark, is for a levy on shipping with proceeds going to poor nations to upgrade their fleets and to adapt to the consequences of climate change.
Professor Lee is an adviser to the Government on the impacts of transport on climate and is one of four CATE scientists cited in the award of the Nobel Prize to the Intergovernmental Panel on climate Change in 2007.
* Second IMO Greenhouse Gas Study, 2009, prepared for the International Maritime Organization – see http://www.imo.org/Environment/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1823.