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Clean Transport uk carbon emissions shipping

Published on September 29th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan


UK Shipping Emissions 6x More than Calculated

September 29th, 2010 by  

uk carbon emissions shipping

UK shipping emissions might be as high as aviation emissions, according to some new research that finds emissions rates previously calculated were way to low because the industry only included fuel bought at UK ports in their calculations…. Yes, that would create an obvious problem (if you want accurate estimates).

The new report, titled Shipping and climate change: Scope for unilateral action, was published by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester. A key finding is that while UK ships take advantage of competitive fuel prices in nearby international ports, the industry does not account for the use of this fuel in UK emissions.

As an alternative to the current method, the study team recommends calculating emissions based on imported and exported goods. It finds that shipping emissions may be even higher than aviation emissions when using this method.

International Shipping Industry Slow-Moving on Climate Change

Of course, if the shipping industry doesn’t clean its act up, it could become a bigger and bigger cause of global carbon emissions. While other sectors have started acting to reduce their emissions, the shipping industry has remained in a sort of limbo or stalemate, unable to agree on solutions for cutting emissions.

“Indeed, as the rest of the world strives to avoid dangerous climate change, the global shipping industry’s carbon emissions could account for almost all of the world’s emissions by 2050 if current rates of growth – fuelled by globalisation – continue,” the Tyndall Centre reports.

“Tackling climate change requires urgent emission reductions across all sectors,” researcher Dr. Paul Gilbert says. “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.”

With a focus on the UK, the report also details how the UK could cut its shipping emissions, even though the UK is reluctant to act until a global or, at least, EU agreement is made.

“This report explores the potential for the UK to take national measures to reduce its share of shipping emissions to complement any future global or EU action,” Gilbert says.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has been very slow to address the shipping industry’s emissions and the EU has announced that it will take action on the EU level if the IMO doesn’t come to some agreement by the end of 2011. But this report suggests that the UK start working now to cut its share of carbon emissions from shipping now.

Photo Credit: Ship at Orwell Estuary, by flickr user gigmum2008 


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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species). He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

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