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A turning point – GHG emissions to reduce by 50%

Paris Agreement for Shipping reached

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), which has 173 member states, set an ambitious level for future CO2 emissions in April 2018. The goal is to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, which is in line with the Paris climate agreement’s goal to limit warming to 1.5ºC.

The decision was applauded by the shipping industry as it advocates global measures instead of regional regulations. The International Chamber of Shipping has pointed out that current CO2 emissions are about 8% lower than in 2008 despite a 30% increase in maritime trade. However, the vision is to phase out CO2 emissions as soon as possible during this century. Many Pacific island states suggested full decarbonisation by 2050, Marshall Islands by as early as 2035.

Pathways to zero-carbon shipping

Basically three types of measures will reduce shipping’s carbon emissions. Technological measures consist of use of light materials, slender design, and waste heat recovery. Operational measures refer to slower speed, use of onshore power and smooth ship-port interface, which relates to reduction of ship’s waiting time during port calls. Fuel savings vary from 1 to 60%, depending on the measure adopted.

Finally, promising alternative fuel and energy options can be considered.

It may seem that there are myriads of options to cut emissions, but some of them also have negative impacts, for instance LNG due to its methane emissions. Other options, like hydrogen, still require research, particularly to make them commercially viable.

It can be concluded that a mix of measures will be needed. Technological and operational innovations, alternative fuels and energies should be combined. Shipping organizations also turn to governments which should provide financial incentives for green shipping.

Enhanced energy efficiency – step by step

Throughout the years, Finnlines has made efforts to reduce ships’ energy consumption through optimal speed, load, trim and timetable planning. The underwater hulls have been brushed and cleaned at regular intervals to remove micro-organisms which accumulate on the hull, slowing the speed and increasing fuel consumption. On two ro-ro passenger ships, which operate in ice-free conditions in Southern Baltic, the latest generation of silicone hull paints has been applied.

During 2014–2017 Finnlines invested in propulsion and reblading, optimizing propeller blades on nine vessels. A total of six roro-vessels, built in 2011–2012, will be lengthened by the end of 2018 and the capacity increase, which is around 30%, will decrease the energy consumption per transported unit compared to the original vessel.

In conclusion, ships’ total fuel consumption has reduced by nearly 30% since 2008.