The UK climate change watchdog has called for shipping to be included in Britain’s 2050 emissions reduction target.
The Committee on Climate Change
(CCC), which advises the Government on greenhouse gas emissions reduction
, said today that Britain’s share of international shipping
could account for as much as 11 per cent of the total emissions legally permitted by 2050. Given this, it has recommended that the Government should include it in its target now and has set out how to go about it.
Under the Climate Change Act, the UK’s target is to reduce emissions
by 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. Currently, emissions from shipping are not included in those targets, along with aviation. However, the Government is required to decide by the end of 2012 whether they should be.
Shipping currently accounts for three per cent of global emissions and is growing at between three and four per cent a year.
The CCC estimates current emissions from UK shipping could be in the range of 12 – 16 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2), or even higher. By 2050, they could account for 18MtCO2 of total 160MtCO2 permitted, it said.
"It is clear that shipping emissions could well be significant, and so cannot be ignored – they should be included under the Climate Change Act," David Kennedy, CCC chief executive, said.
While acknowledging there is a high a degree of uncertainty about current and future emissions from shipping, because of issues around accurate methodology, the CCC report offers the first detailed assessment of the UK’s share of current and future international shipping emissions and estimates the abatement potential from shipping.
As well as making a number of suggestions on how to reduce emissions from shipping through technical and operational changes, such as making engines more efficient, reducing the speed at which ships travel
and using biofuels, the report also recommends to include emissions from shipping in the UK 2050 target immediately. If that is not possible, it suggests they be included in the target "when progress has been made on a methodology to accurately reflect international shipping emissions", or both.
"It is […] clear that there is scope to reduce emissions, which would reduce costs of inclusion. In order to ensure this, the Government should proactively support development of new policies aimed at encouraging investment in cleaner shipping technologies and more efficient operational practices," Kennedy said.
Green groups welcomed the CCC’s report, saying action on shipping emissions was long overdue.
"International shipping has, like aviation, been left out of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for too long. That’s why the Government needs to listen to the CCC and include emissions from shipping and aviation in the UK Climate Change Act and carbon budgets," Keith Allott, head of climate change at WWF-UK, said.
On Monday, leading players in the shipping industry announced plans to make future shipping more sustainable, including making deep cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions.
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