UK emissions from shipping six times higher than thought

UK emissions from shipping could be six times higher than current estimates, according to a study by researchers at the University of Manchester.

Currently, the country’s emissions are calculated using international bunker fuel sales – or the amount of fuel purchased at UK ports.

But the University of Manchester researchers say that calculating emissions according to the CO2 released by commercial ships involved with UK trade provides would give a much fairer representation.

If this representation were to be adopted, the UK’s emissions from shipping would rise from around 7 megatonnes (Mt) of CO2 in 2006 to 31-42 MtCO2 on the basis of goods exported from and imported into the country respectively.

The study warns that unless action is taken to reduce emissions from shipping, they could rise from current levels of around 3% of total global emissions to a very much higher proportion by 2050.

A deal to reduce emissions from shipping has been under discussion at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for some time, but with little progress. So much so that the EU has said it will take action at the European level to limit emissions from shipping unless the IMO agrees action by the end of next year.

“Unfortunately up until now, global efforts to reduce shipping emissions have been slow, and are not keeping up with the pace of growth of the sector,” says author of the study Paul Gilbert from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

John Aitken, secretary general of Shipping Emissions Abatement and Trading, suggests that if an appropriate ‘apportionment’ methodology could be agreed by nations, it would greatly assist the development of a global strategy to reduce emissions.

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Related stories:
EU plans to set emission reduction targets for shipping and aviation (22-Oct 2009)
Shipping agrees to voluntary energy efficiency measures (22-Jul 2009)
Get a grip on international shipping carbon emissions, says report (4-Jun 2009)

27 September 2010