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World Bank: Maritime transport must act on climate change

12 Jan 2018

Washington-based financial institute World Bank Group (WBG) says maritime transport has been ‘largely absent’ from the public debate on transport and climate change.

“Tackling emissions from the shipping industry is just as critical as it is for other modes of transport,” notes Dr Nancy Vandycke, Program Manager, Sustainable Mobility for All (SuM4All), at WBG.

“First, international maritime transport accounts for the lion’s share of global freight transport: ships carry around 80% of the volume of all world trade and 70% of its value.

“In addition, although shipping is considered the most energy-efficient mode of transport, it still uses huge amounts of so-called bunker fuels, a byproduct of crude oil refining that takes a heavy toll on the environment.”

According to Dr Vandycke, shipping emissions will rank as the 6th largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter worldwide, between Japan and Germany, if the sector was a country of its own.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) estimates carbon emissions from shipping could increase by 50% to 250% under a business-as-usual scenario.

“While the sector’s share in global emissions is currently at 2-3%, the demand for maritime transport is soaring – and so are emissions. From 2015 to 2016 alone, the slowest year in more than a decade, the world’s fleet still grew by more than 3.5%,” she says.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), meanwhile, has already adopted the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) to address carbon emissions from international flights in 2016.

“If the shipping sector does not follow suit quickly, its carbon emissions are forecasted to make up 10%-17% of global GHG emissions by 2050, posing a significant threat to the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping global warming well below 2°C,” she highlights.

The World Bank is part of two global initiatives that have recently joined forces to support the shipping industry on this journey: The Sustainable Mobility for All and the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, says Dr Vandycke.

“Building an alliance of progressive maritime stakeholders to explore, discuss, and evaluate the potential of possible emissions reduction strategies is key,” she notes.

“As Roman philosopher Seneca once said: ‘If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.’”

Publication date: 12 January, 2018

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