Insight: How Shipping can cut Emissions


As COP21, a major environmental conference taking place in Paris from December 7-8, 2015, gets well into motion, world ministers have descended on the French capital in a collective bid to take definitive action on climate change.

Early concerns have seen leading world figures questioning whether the aims to limit climate change are ambitious enough, while some developing countries have outlined fears that sanctions that are too restrictive could obstruct growth.   

Paul Floren, Global Communication Leader of GE Power Conversion explains to PTI the ways in which he believes emissions reductions can be achieved in the maritime sector:

 “Achieving carbon emission reduction goals will require hard work and the introduction of new technologies to increase energy efficiency in industry, construction and transportation.

“Progress has already been made on this, with efficiency measures in OECD countries reducing demand growth to 60% of what would otherwise be expected.

“The sheer scale of the international shipping industry, however, means that greenhouse gas emissions are high.

“Vessel owners are already taking a number of steps to reduce emissions through initiatives such as installing electric power and propulsion systems, and switching to alternative fuels, which can dramatically reduce fuel consumption and operating costs.

“Electric propulsion is not new – it has been used in ships since the early 1900s – originally to facilitate the reversal of the ship propeller at a time of limited gearbox manufacturing capability, but its importance is even more crucial today as fleet costs soar and emissions targets become more stringent.

“Its use is proven, with the US Navy predicting lifetime fuel savings of around US$250 million through the implementation of electric propulsion on its amphibious assault ship, the USS Makin Island – drastically reducing the carbon emissions emitted through decreased use of fuel.

“Even upgrading existing systems such as dynamic positioning can save operators up to 10% in fuel usage which over time can significantly reduce a ship’s carbon footprint.”

Fact File: The first COP took place in Berlin in 1995 and significant meetings since then have included COP3, COP11 and COP17 in Durban where the 'Green Climate Fund' was created. In 2015, COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

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