IMO report on GHG finds a decoupling between trade and emissions in shipping
The International Maritime Organisation’s fourth Greenhouse Gas Study highlights that the shipping industry has continued its trend of decoupling emissions growth from the global growth of seaborne trade. However, the report demonstrates that improvements in technical efficiencies alone will not be enough for the sector to reach the target of halving emissions by 2050, compared to 2008 levels.
The Study shows a 40% increase in seaborne trade between 2008 and 2018 while also recognising that CO2 emissions from shipping fell by 10% over the same period. Notably, seaborne trade doubled between 1999 and 2018.
This vital decoupling has been made possible by significant improvements in carbon intensity, which is now between 21 and 29% better than in 2008, across international shipping. This is just one of many factors that makes shipping the most environmentally friendly mode of transport for goods.
The study has not considered the COVID-19 pandemic, which is currently having a significant impact on the industry. The WTO expects a 15-30% contraction in worldwide trade in 2020, which will further reduce the level of emissions from shipping.
However, as underlined in the report, further improvements in the efficiency of conventional oil-fuelled ships will not be able to phase out carbon emissions entirely. The development of zero-emission technology remains crucial. This is why the industry put forward proposals last year for a levy to be placed on the cost of a tonne of fuel to create a $5bn R&D fund that aims to develop zero-carbon ships.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the entire shipping community is fully committed to forging a net-zero future for the sector. Through the continued decoupling between trade and emissions, growing efficiency savings and the development of zero-carbon technologies, the industry is confident it will be able to achieve the necessary target of halving emissions by 2050.