Categories: Europe, International Maritime OrganisationPublished On: 03.09.2019411 words2.1 min read

French President Emmanuel Macron has gotten a mixed response from the shipping industry to his calls for a global speed limit to be imposed on commercial vessels.

Macron named “slow steaming” as an environmental priority at the G7 summit, saying it was one of the most effective ways to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. He’s also reportedly looking to create a green shipping lobbying group to drive momentum for the idea.

When France put the idea to the International Maritime Organisation in April, it quickly won the support of more than 100 shipping CEOs – who called for maximum annual average speeds for container ships (the worst polluters), and maximum absolute speeds for other ships.

A question of speed optimisation, not speed limits

However Guy Platten, secretary general of the London-based International Chamber of Shipping, which represents 80 percent of the world’s merchant ships, says that while the industry is “absolutely committed” to CO2 reductions, mandatory speed limits are not the most efficient way to go about it.

“Speed reduction can be a slightly blunt instrument … there’s no one-size-fits-all,” he explains. “It depends on trade, it depends on the weather conditions and a huge number of other factors.

Platten is in favour of a more tailored approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that would put each ship in charge of completing a voyage in the most energy-efficient way possible. The details would be available to inspectors in the form of a mandatory management plan.

It’s a question of speed optimisation; not speed limits, he says. “In other words, the most effective speed that burns the least amount of fuel … Speed optimisation can be very effective along with other measures that include the design of ships, and maybe using alternative types of fuel.”

For more than a year the IMO has been looking at ways to reduce carbon emissions from ships.REUTERS/Hannah McKay

IMO strategy to reduce carbon footprint

For more than a year the IMO, a UN agency, has been looking at ways to reduce carbon emissions from ships. Twelve months before France’s call for speed limits, the maritime body committed to reducing shipping emissions per tonne of transported goods by 40 percent by 2030 – and by 50 percent by 2050.

However France’s position is that, in order to meet the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement, the IMO targets need to go even further – as far as a 70 percent reduction in emissions by 2050.  . . . . . .

. . . . . continue reading on the RFI website