Photo: Kirsi Tikka, President and COO ABS Europe
More and more voices in the shipping industry identify speed regulation as the central tool to meet the 2030 targets prescribed by the IMO. But experts point out that the efficiency of the logistics chain on land will also play a critical role
Vessel speed controls will probably be the biggest factor in reducing shipping emissions to meet agreed 2030 targets, according to Kirsi Tikka, global marine chief of classification society ABS.
“Preferably control in a way that does not distort trade and also gives some credit to the more efficient existing ships. But it is a tool that is readily available,” she said during a press conference in Oslo at the Nor Shipping fair.
The IMO has pledged to slash carbon consumption by 40% by 2030 compared to 2008, as well as total annual greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50%.
Speed measures have been the latest subject of controversy in an IMO that is attempting to carry out commitments it made in April 2020. Environmental non-governmental organisations, along with France are calling for direct speed limits, a measure fiercely opposed by countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Chile, who cited concerns about the potential disruptions in trade.
Shipowner lobbies, on the other hand propose speed optimisation measures while Denmark, Germany and Spain champion operational measures.
ABS, the third largest classification society in terms of gross tonnage, has published an outlook on fuels and other options shipping has to cut down on emissions, focusing specifically on 2030 and 2050.
While Ms Tikka expects operational efficiency improvements and greater uptake of liquefied natural gas as a fuel, it is speed controls that will likely play the most crucial role.
“We can say ships of the future will go slower than the ones of today,” she said.
Niklas Calren, research director at MSI, which assisted with the ABS outlook, said that while speed regulation in the form of slow steaming will help shipowners by cutting down bunker fuel costs, whether it really succeeds in its purpose will largely depend on the efficiency of the logistics chain on land.
“The risk is that if you do not see that efficiency on the land side and you see an actual slow down then you are effectively taking capacity out of the market because each ship will do fewer voyages each year. So then you are potentially generating a situation where new ships will be entering the market,” he said.
Regulators at IMO did not decide on any of the proposed decarbonisation measures during negotiations in May and will revisit the issue in April 2020.
Ms Tikka admitted that with the level of dispute over the format of speed regulation within the IMO it will very difficult to get a conclusion in that forum.
“I believe it is worth spending the time to come up with the right regulation,” she said.