The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), speaking at the UN climate change conference in Cancun, has expressed concern about the merchant shipping energy database published by the ‘Carbon War Room’.
ICS describes itself as the principal international trade association for shipowners, representing all sectors and trades and about 80% of the world merchant fleet. It is currently representing the international shipping industry at the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, where its secretary-general has expressed serious concern about the “misleading” online database of efficiency data for 60,000 individual merchant ships, published by Virgin Atlantic airlines’ boss Sir Richard Branson’s self styled ‘Carbon War Room’, ostensibly to allow customers to compare the carbon footprint of the ships they are using.
ICS secretary general, Peter Hinchliffe explained: “The Energy Efficiency Design Index, developed by the International Maritime Organization, has been used completely out of context. While the EEDI is an important benchmarking tool to help ships reduce their carbon emissions, it was not created to compare individual ships of different types with each other. Ships have very different construction and safety requirements, depending on their type and trade, which can cause their energy consumption to vary greatly. Also, the IMO methodology has not been approved for use with all types of ship. It is therefore inappropriate for the Carbon War Room to use this methodology to derive scores for completely different classes of ships.”
While the database may appear to show some shipping companies in a good light, it is not appropriate for the EEDI to be used as a tool by charterers to select more efficient ships, or for ports to use the data when setting their dues.
Shipping is already the most carbon efficient form of commercial transport, at least 30 times more so than cargo aviation, and the high cost of marine fuel – due to escalate further as it switches to low sulphur fuels – already means that shipowners have every incentive to reduce their fuel consumption even more. The global shipping industry, which is said by ICS to be responsible for moving 90% of world trade, fully supports the package of CO2 emission reduction measures that has been developed by its regulator – the IMO – which are expected to be adopted for worldwide application in July 2011 – provided the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun gives IMO the mandate it requires to complete its important work.
Hinchliffe added: “We have nothing at all against the aviation sector, and have just participated in a joint side event with them at the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun. But for Sir Richard to claim that “the shipping industry was doing pretty well nothing” suggests that he has not been well briefed on the tremendous steps that shipping is taking to maintain its position as the most carbon efficient transport mode by far.”