The International Chamber of Shipping says that because our recent study shows that shipping emissions remain below their 2008 peak, not to worry. That's an overly rosy view of the data.
As the International Maritime Organization meets again in London to discuss a sectoral cap on greenhouse gas emissions, we revisit the complexity of how to assign responsibility for shipping emissions. Both countries that offshore their shipping emissions, and the flag states that absorb them, are identified. We close with a few useful principles for policymakers.
The IMO will consider concrete proposals on ways to reduce the risks of HFO at the next meeting of its Marine Environment Protection Committee, MEPC 72 in April 2018. A decision on what should be done to mitigate the risks of HFO could come as early as 2019.
Without regulation, it’s unlikely that the international maritime shipping sector will voluntarily find ways to cut black carbon emissions, despite the climate benefit. Thus, we need to move on from quibbling about the “perfect” measurement method and start debating the opportunities to cut black carbon control emissions. But we must move quickly. Because the Arctic we’re aiming to protect can’t keep its cool much longer.
With Arctic shipping expected to rise, there may be an argument that communities in the Arctic ought to be protected from ship emissions just like the rest of the continent. Though it’s an open issue whether the Arctic will win protection from pollution by ships.
On her 32-day voyage through the Northwest Passage, the Crystal Serenity probably emitted a bit more than 1 metric ton of black carbon, a climate forcer about 3200 times more powerful than CO2—and in the Arctic, pretty much the worst place possible.