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Shipping emissions continue to drop ahead of MEPC 80

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Five weeks from today sees the start of the keenly anticipated 80th gathering of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) at the London headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a meeting where the shipping industry will likely hear about forthcoming more stringent green targets.

Shipping has faced significant pressure from regulators and NGOs alike to slash emissions, but new analysis from Clarksons Research places the industry’s carbon footprint in a different light. 

The latest estimates from Clarksons suggest that shipping’s emissions on a tank-to-wake basis will contribute 2.1% and 822m tonnes of global CO2 output in 2023, down marginally on 2022’s figures of 2.3% and 845m tonnes as slower speeds impact. 

To put these figures in context, overall transportation contributes around 21% of global CO2, according to Clarksons with the largest polluter being power generation at around 39% (see charts below).

Moreover, while other transport sectors have seen emissions grow in recent years, shipping has managed to keep reducing its carbon footprint. 

Across the period 2009 to 2019 – between the financial crisis and covid – data from the International Energy Agency shows that both passenger vehicle and road freight CO2 emissions increased by around 20%. Aviation emissions data shows even greater growth.

Clarksons data shows that during the same timeframe shipping’s CO2 emissions declined by around 14%, largely thanks to the era of slow steaming that manifested in the wake of the global financial crisis. 

Splash will be bringing readers regular updates from MEPC, which is scheduled to run from July 3 to July 7. 


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