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Shippings emissions can be cut by half by 2030

27 June 2023

According to a new report from the Dutch respected consultancy CE Delft, shipping emissions can be reduced by between a quarter and half by 2030, compared to 2008. The reductions can be mainly achieved through reduced speeds, while wind assistance, other technical measures and the use of fossil-free fuels also play a role.

In July, the member states of the maritime international decision-making body IMO gathers for a session that will adopt the revisions to the IMO’s declared strategy for greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2018, the IMO position has been that shipping will reduce emissions by 50 by 2050 relative to 2008. 

The IMO has not only been called upon by the EU, individual nations and environmental organizations to sharpen its climate targets for 2050 – a major question that remains to be resolved at the meeting is whether emission reduction targets for 2030 and 2040 should also be introduced, and if so how high they should be. As input to that debate, CE Delft has modeled the maximum technically possible reduction potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the shipping sector until 2030.

And the report comes to the conclusion that it is possible to reduce shipping's emissions significantly until 2030, under certain assumptions. First of all, speed reductions of 20-30 percent are required compared to 2018 (for those ship types where a speed reduction would result in less greenhouse gas emissions). This measure accounts for half of the power in CE Delft's package of measures, while wind assistance and other efficiency improvements account for a quarter. Other fossil-free fuels then? Yes, 5-10 per cent of the fleets energy can come from fuels emitting zero greenhouse gases.

If all these assumptions are met, CE Delft believes that between 28-47 percent of shipping's emissions can be reduced by 2030. The cost of the whole thing varies depending on the degree of fuel conversion and the size of the speed reduction. A reduction in speed by 30 percent, for example, entails a significantly higher cost compared to a reduction by 20 percent, and the higher the proportion of alternative fuels, the more expensive it becomes. According to the report, shipping costs will increase 6-14 percent.

“The evidence shows that halving emissions by 2030 is technically possible and that the costs are manageable. What is needed is the political will. The IMO cannot afford to miss this opportunity,” said Faïg Abbasov, of the influential group Transport & Environment.

To the report

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