19 april 2018

The shipping industry emits as much carbon as all of Germany. That's unacceptable

By The L.A.Times Editorial Board, Apr 19, 2018

The shipping industry emits as much carbon as all of Germany. That's unacceptable

Finally, the shipping industry will be asked to do its part to fight climate change. The United Nations' International Maritime Organization, which regulates the industry, agreed in London last week to set a 2050 goal of reducing emissions from oceangoing cargo ships to 50% below the 2008 level.

It's an ambitious goal, and the details on how it is to be achieved are still being worked out, but climate experts say the sector still needs to do more if the world is to meet the 2015 Paris agreement goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

In other words, the shipping pact is a nice, if late, start, but the global shipping industry needs to keep working toward the ultimate goal of phasing out fossil fuels entirely.

Does it matter? Is shipping really an important front in the war against global warming? Surprisingly, international maritime shipping emits levels of greenhouse gases that collectively are on par with Germany, which has the world's sixth-highest level of emissions. Driving the maritime emissions has been the sector's reliance on heavy fuel oil, a cheap but dirty-burning energy source that spews high levels of sulfur and other gases and particulates into the atmosphere. The industry, which moves at least four-fifths of the world's cargo, has been shifting from heavy fuel oil to liquid natural gas and other alternatives, and the International Maritime Organization will require all new ships added to fleets after 2025 to be 30% more efficient than those built under current construction designs.


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