We’ve been clear over the last few months that tackling climate change is a top priority for the UK Chamber of Shipping. We have argued for a Green Industrial Revolution and we want to see more hybrid ferries being used across shipping routes.
In our election manifesto we have called for greater government action and increased investment in research and development to accelerate the transition to a greener shipping industry and to make the UK a world leader in the development of clean maritime technology.
With policy makers in Madrid for the UN Climate Change Conference, we are delighted to see new research which shows the global shipping industry is going greener.
We know it is a cleaner mode of transport than both aviation and freight and a new report from Clarksons Research estimates that shipping’s total CO2 emissions will drop by around 1% this year. And it’s not just in the last year that it’s been cut, it's estimated that the global fleet’s carbon footprint has been reduced by approximately 19% in the last 10 years.
This cut in emissions has come at the same time the world fleet and trade has grown. The merchant fleet grew by 3% in the first 10 months of the year according to Clarksons Research and by around 60% over the past 10 years.
A 60% increase in world fleet tonnage and a 19% reduction in carbon emissions. This is remarkable. It shows what a good job shipping has done under tough global conditions, but we need to see this trend continuing.
We have also seen action at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). In November, at a meeting to discuss how the shipping industry can decarbonise, the IMO agreed that a mandatory goal-setting approach is the best way to reduce carbon emissions in the short term.
It was also clear at the meeting that there was no appetite for speed reduction regulation which we as a Chamber have long argued isn’t the way forward.
But we have also argued that we need to continue to do more if we are to achieve the tough targets set by the IMO and the UK Government, with net-zero the challenge by 2050.
The technologies needed to achieve the 2050 target do not currently exist at a scale or in a form which is commercially viable, especially for long voyages.
We will need concerted R&D activity, led and incentivised by government, and supported by the industry, manufacturers, academics and innovators.
We will need industry to formulate new plans and co-ordinate work better. And we will need investment in skills, research and innovation so we can utilise our world class universities and research centres.
I personally see this as a great opportunity for the UK, and our shipping industry, to step up to the mark, and, once again, be a global leader in areas with massive growth potential.
In 2020 we will see more discussions around how shipping can do its bit to tackle climate change.
The UN Climate Conference in Glasgow next November will see the world come to the UK to discuss measures to reduce emissions and we at the Chamber are already working on plans for next year.
We are doing well as an industry, but we know there is more to do and in 2020 we will continue to work with our members, wider industry and the Government to ensure we are doing everything we can to reduce emissions across the industry.