In a new report, the UK's Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says that the British shipping industry should explore wind power to cut the country’s carbon emissions; the advisory Committee also wants the UK to be the first country to include shipping emissions in its calculation of greenhouse gases. The CCC says that the industry should update propulsion systems, use special paints to reduce friction and reintroduce sails and towing kites to cut emissions, and that shipping should, in addition, allocate vessels more efficiently.
The British government must decide on these recommendations by the end of next year. The CCC report is the result of a five-year study carried out by the Technical University of Berlin Of this, the committee's analysts spent three months calculating British shipping emissions "from the bottom up", examining 150,000 shipping movements into and out of British ports by merchant ships, tugs, fishing vessels, ferries and cruise liners.
The report says that conventional wind power would, in addition to environmental advantages, result in savings as high as 44 percent. The committee's CEO David Kennedy said that shipping had to be included in the UK's emission control plans because it was “too big and too worrying to forget about".
The CCC said that larger ships of the future would automatically improve carbon efficiency significantly, but recommended upgrades to propulsion, hull coatings, renewable energies and hull optimisation as additional ways to reduce carbon footprint. Technology would assist in more efficient routeing and turn-around times, it said, and slow steaming and switching to more efficient fuels like bio fuels or LNG were other ways to control emissions. The CCC has made several other proposals- including a tax on bunkers that has been criticised by the UK Chamber of Shipping- that it says will cut emissions by 80 percent by 2050, the figures Britain must reach under the Climate Change Act.
The Committee felt that greenhouse gas emissions from shipping should be included in the UK's climate change budgets. International aviation and shipping emissions are not currently included, resulting in what some say is a distortion of actual emission figures. "If you include shipping in the 2050 target - especially if you throw in aviation as well - that implies full decarbonisation of electricity, heat and surface vehicles," said Mr Kennedy. "Shipping could account for up to 10% of emissions allowed under the 2050 target, and that says this is a material issue."
The British Chamber of Shipping has welcomed the CCC findings cautiously. “There is a wide range of technology which can be used to cut emissions,” said the Chamber's Director of Safety and Environment David Baltson. "We do stress, however, that any solution must be global rather than regional to avoid distorting world trade and potentially damaging an industry that is vital to the future prosperity of the United Kingdom."
As expected, the proposals were welcomed by environmentalist groups such as Friends of the Earth. "Leaving out the UK's share of international shipping from our climate targets would be like an alcoholic giving up all booze except whisky.” said Richard Dyer from the group. "Ignoring the growing climate impact of shipping would be a titanic mistake which could sink our ability to develop a safe and prosperous future".