Decarbonizing the international shipping industry: solutions and policy recommendations

Zheng Wan, Abdel el Makhloufi, Yang Chen, Jiayuan Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)
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Ship-source greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions could increase by up to 250% from 2012 levels by 2050 owing to increasing global freight volumes. Binding international legal agreements to regulate GHGs, however, are lacking as technical solutions remain expensive and crucial industrial support is absent. In 2003, IMO adopted Resolution A.963 (23) to regulate shipping CO2 emissions via technical, operational, and market-based routes. However, progress has been slow and uncertain; there is no concrete emission reduction target or definitive action plan. Yet, a full-fledged roadmap may not even emerge until 2023. In this policy analysis, we revisit the progress of technical, operational, and market-based routes and the associated controversies. We argue that 1) a performance-based index, though good-intentioned, has loopholes affecting meaningful CO2 emission reductions driven by technical advancements; 2) using slow steaming to cut energy consumption stands out among operational solutions thanks to its immediate and obvious results, but with the already slow speed in practice, this single source has limited emission reduction potential; 3) without a technology-savvy shipping industry, a market-based approach is essentially needed to address the environmental impact. To give shipping a 50:50 chance for contributing fairly and proportionately to keep global warming below 2°C, deep emission reductions should occur soon.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-435
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue numberJanuary
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


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