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Press Release

Reducing CO2 is Economic ‘No Brainer’ for Shipowners, ICS Tells UN Climate Change Conference

Today, at the United Nations (UNFCCC) Climate Change Conference in Warsaw (COP 19), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) will advise a United Nations event on the economics of mitigation that reducing CO2 emissions is an economic ‘no brainer’ for the global shipping industry. Further efforts by industry to improve fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions from ships – which carry about 90% of global trade – is already a matter of enlightened self interest.

18 November 2013

ICS, which is the principal international trade association for shipowners, will explain that fuel is the shipping industry’s largest variable operating cost. In the last 5 years alone, fuel prices have increased by about 300%, and are expected to increase by a further 50%-100% due to the imminent switch to low sulphur fuel, soon to be required for most ships by separate International Maritime Organization (IMO) rules.

“The fuel costs for a typical ship carrying iron ore are already about US$3 million a year. For the latest generation of mega containerships they could be as much $30 million a year” said ICS Director External Relations, Simon Bennett. “The high cost of fuel means that market forces are already providing shipowners with every incentive they need to continue improving their fuel efficiency and reduce their CO2 emissions. Otherwise shipping companies will simply not survive.”

With the full support of the shipping industry, the worldwide entry into force in January 2013 of amendments to the IMO MARPOL Convention makes shipping the first industrial sector to have a binding global regime in place to reduce CO2 emissions.

“In addition to the new IMO regulations to improve the efficiency of new ship designs, the mandatory application of Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plans is now giving additional impetus to fuel efficiency measures that are already being taken by much of the industry.” said Mr Bennett. This includes measures such as operating ships at slower speeds, and adjusting trim (the balance of weight which affects how ships move through water).

The shipping industry remains committed to working with governments at IMO to help deliver further measures to improve fuel efficiency from ships. The immediate focus at IMO, pending the conclusion of a replacement to the Kyoto Protocol in 2015, is the development of a mandatory system for the monitoring and reporting of the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by every individual ship in the commercial world fleet. This is fully supported by the industry and is something on which ICS is about to make a detailed submission to IMO with respect to a possible way forward that might be acceptable to all nations in both developed and emerging economies.


Additional Information about ‘Shipping, World Trade, and the Reduction of CO2 Emissions’ can be found here.

IMO requirements which mean most ships will switch to low sulphur distillate fuel from less expensive residual fuel are being phased in between now and 2020.