NOVA MEDIA PUBLISHING INC.

Green slow-steaming Proposal might Affect Reefer Transportation

16.3.2018

The IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) is working on a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships, which includes a list of short- and long-term measures. A proposal requiring ships to limit their speeds is “one of the few measures that will deliver emission reductions in the short-term” according to the Clean Shipping Coalition, an environmental group with “observer” status at the IMO. MEPC is scheduled to include the proposal at its next meeting in April.

But while there is no question that reducing vessel speeds cuts emissions from individual ships, “even at a 10 percent speed reduction, you can’t do that across the world’s fleet and compensate by putting into service idle capacity, operators would still have to build new ships,” Wood-Thomas said. “If you go to 20 percent you have to build a lot of new inventory to the equation. And a 30 percent reduction would require a tremendous capital investment to move the same amount of material around the world.”

Slow-steaming would reduce capacity short term

Franck Kayser, an independent shipping consultant, told the audience such a proposal, if it were to be formalized into regulation, would also mean — at least in the short term — tighter capacity as volume from idle ship fleets are absorbed into service. “And that means demand for space increases over supply, so if this speed scheme goes forward, shippers will see a significant increase in costs.”

Slow-steaming is typically used to lower operating costs when shipping is struggling. IMO studies have shown that total GHG emissions from international shipping decreased 10 percent between 2007 and 2012 — due in part to more efficient vessels, but also has a result of slow steaming. However, the recovery in 2017 of the dry bulk and container freight markets has resulted in many carriers abandoning the practice.

Shipper supply chains, particularly those that trade in the reefer markets, would be at risk as well,” Wood-Thomas cautioned. “You start to have to grapple with issues of how increased transit times effect the world’s trade lanes, and how it’s going to affect the shipment of perishables.”

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