Memorandum submitted by Alice Bows, Tyndall Centre, MACE, University of Manchester (EFS03)
The points made within this evidence are based on ongoing preliminary research into the UK's shipping industry and associated emissions, being carried out as part of the Tyndall Centre's core research programme at the University of Manchester. Much of the evidence is based on qualitative interviewing, and is therefore gathered through dialogue with shipping industry stakeholders. This evidence will, in some cases, require further quantitative research to add weight to the arguments made.
For the UK
Government to assess its contribution to global climate change, it is essential
to be able to account for all emission producing sectors. It is clearly more
straightforward to do this for some sectors than others, however given the
scale of the global climate change challenge faced (Anderson and Bows, 2008), calculating all of the emissions being generated to high precision is
likely to be unnecessary. Rather, it is important that any method of
apportioning emissions to the
Manchester, we have looked at what the impact of including a 'fair' proportion
of emissions from the international aviation and shipping industries has on the
Although the bunker fuel consumed is often recorded by ship operators, a transparent method through which the data can be collated and used by governments is not currently operational. Understanding more clearly this total global marine bunker fuel figure will greatly assist in the calculation of national emission budgets.
• How significant is global shipping's contribution to climate change? How is this projected to change in the future?
The global shipping industry represents a considerable contribution to climate change; due to the very high percentage of goods transported world-wide for industrial and public consumption, coupled with a reliance on heavy fuel oil. Currently, attempts at estimating the CO2 emissions from global shipping have been subject to considerable uncertainty. Figures vary from study to study depending on the method used to make the estimation. The table below summarises some of the estimates available:
The proportion of total global CO2 emissions for shipping, if calculated using a top-down method, depends on a reliable global CO2 emission figure. According to CDIAC, global CO2 from fossil fuels is estimated to be some 30GtCO2 in 2006, therefore shipping accounts for between 3%-4% of this, depending on which estimate is used.
Clearly, shipping is a very efficient mode of transportation considering the amount of freight moved globally. However, the global shipping industry is expected to continue to grow. Given the very limited global carbon budget available (Anderson and Bows, 2008), if the UK Government is to play its part towards a 2ºC target, curbing emission growth, and ultimately reducing the CO2 from shipping is desirable.
• How should the
1) The method should ensure that if it is applied to all nations, the aggregate is equal to the global sum of CO2 emitted by world-wide shipping.
3) Where possible, be based on actual fuel consumed rather than modelled data.
Possible methods of apportionment that could aggregate on a global scale include:
- Allocation based on the UK's proportion of global GDP applied to global bunker fuel data: n.b. the figure obtained will depend heavily on the global bunker fuel figure recorded which is subject to great uncertainty - see (Corbett and Kohler, 2003; Eyring et al., 2005) (see table).
- Allocation based on the actual fuel
consumed by incoming or outgoing ships docking at
- Allocation based on a percentage
share of global bunker fuel derived from the total freight-tonne-km associated
with incoming or outgoing ships docking at
- Allocation based on a percentage
share of global bunker fuel derived from the total freight-tonnes associated
with incoming or outgoing ships docking at
Possible method of apportionment that will not aggregate on a global scale is:
- Allocation based on a particular
geographical location - i.e. all emissions within 100 miles of
To incorporate shipping into UK carbon
budgets, it is firstly essential that the UK's budget reflects the UK's climate
change target (2ºC), and begins with a total that reflects not only the UK's
emissions, but also emissions from international aviation and shipping. This is
a critical point, as the higher the starting total, the more rapidly the
According to industry stakeholders, ship crew record fuel consumed on each journey, but the information is not publically available for various administrative and competitive reasons. In addition, Lloyd's register includes a variety of data on the global shipping industry. Given the data is already collated at this level, a first step in measuring CO2 associated with UK shipping would be to work through the UK Chamber of shipping, the various ports associations to develop a method for facilitating the collation of this data for the purposes of UK CO2 inventories.
• What are the prospects of international agreements to control and
reduce carbon emissions from global shipping, or to bring it within wider
emissions trading schemes? How well is the
My understanding is that the IMO decision-making process is very slow due to its organisational arrangements. However, the pressure of knowing the EU is likely to regulate in the form of emissions trading, has somewhat accelerated discussions. Most importantly, any international agreement to control and reduce carbon emissions from global shipping must take account of the underlying evidence base linking emission pathways with 2ºC. See Anderson, Bows & Mander 2008 and Anderson & Bows 2008 below for further details.
• What are the prospects for developing new engine technologies and fuels, as well as more fuel-efficient operations? What more could the Government do to assist these developments?
In relation to more fuel efficient operations, ports have a role to play in smooth throughput of the loading and unloading of ships. On many occasions, ships travel quickly to reach a destination, only to find they must then queue for several days to unload. In other words, ships have used more fuel in the transit than necessary; as the relationship between fuel burn and speed is a cubed law. I.e. speed is proportional to the cube of fuel consumed. If there were a mechanism by which port operations could be managed more efficiently, to ensure ships could know well in advance when the next available slot for unloading or loading might be, shipping speeds and hence fuel burn may be reduced. More research needs to be carried out in this area to overcome the current constraint of inefficient port operations.
Anderson, K. and A. Bows, 2007. A response to the Draft Climate Change Bill's carbon reduction targets. Tyndall Centre Briefing Note 17, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, from http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/publications/briefing_notes/bn17.pdf.
Anderson, K. and A. Bows, 2008. Reframing the climate change challenge in light of post-2000 emission trends. Philosophical Transactions A. In press.
Anderson, K., A. Bows and S. Mander, 2008. From long-term targets to cumulative emission pathways: Reframing UK climate policy. Energy Policy. In Press, Corrected Proof.
Corbett, J. J. and H. W. Kohler, 2003. Updated emissions from ocean shipping. Journal of Geophysical Research. 108,(D20, 4650).
Endresen, O., E. Sorgard, J. Bakke and I. S. A. Isaksen, 2004. Substantiation of a lower estimate for the bunker inventory: Comment on "updated emissions from ocean shipping" by James J Corbett and Horst W Koehler. Journal of Geophysical Research. 109,(doi:10.1029/2004JD004843), D23302.
Eyring, V., H. W. Kohler, J. v. Aardenne and A. Lauer, 2005. Emissions from international shipping: 1. The last 50 years. Journal of Geophysical Research. 110,(D17305).
 This total will itself vary depending on the estimate used for the international bunker CO2