Even if the entire world fleet switched to zero emissions propulsion technology, the impact on global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would be "modest" at best, consultant and veteran industry expert Rudy Kassinger has told Ship & Bunker.
The comments come in the wake of the recent 71st session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 71), where the industry continued its efforts to develop strategies for reducing GHG emissions as part of its implied obligations under the COP21 global climate agreement.
But as pressure mounts on IMO for the sector to do its part in the wider global reduction effort, Kassinger warns the significance of those efforts may be misunderstood.
"Shipping currently produces less than 3 percent of global GHGs to move 90 percent of world trade. This sounds like it's a very efficient use of energy already. While I’m not against marine further optimizing consumption, it needs to be understood that even if industry efforts reduced this by half it would only have a minimal impact on the global GHG picture," he told Ship & Bunker.
"World consumption of petroleum is about 95 million barrels per day (bbl/d). Marine fuel consumption is about 5 million bbl/d. In contrast, light/medium distillate consumption is around 66 million bbl/d, which is mainly gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. That's the 'low hanging' fruit, not the 5 million bbl/d from Marine. Even if the world fleet switched to using sails the impact on global GHG emissions would be modest.
"So while I'm certainly in favour of the spirit of the marine effort, as any contribution that this most fuel efficient mode of transportation makes will be important to the global effort, it should be put in perspective. There is a far greater savings potential to be had from efforts to make auto and truck emissions per ton mile the same as shipping.”