As IMO prepares to begin researching the fourth edition of its Greenhouse Gas Study, shipowner association BIMCO has asked the organisation to revise its assumptions
No-one goes to sea for a life in statistics. But that may be where it leads. Just ask BIMCO deputy secretary general Lars Robert Pedersen, who has spent the past year or more delving into the figures behind IMO’s third Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Study.
The hugely influential study has acted as a reference point for carbon and energy efficiency regulations at IMO since it was published in 2014. There has been an unprecedented volume of emissions legislation in that time, including the establishment of an initial GHG reduction strategy, a data collection system for emissions and significant revisions in the Energy Efficiency Design Index.
A fourth study will be started in the first half of 2019 and is due to be completed next year. An expert workshop preparing for the study will meet in London on 12-14 March. The document will be relied on heavily, like its predecessor. This time the stakes are arguably even higher, as IMO assesses the candidate measures that will help it meet its GHG emission reduction ambitions.
Lars Robert Pedersen (BIMCO): The "250% projection" has been used as a stick against shipping to shape regional policy
More reason, says Mr Pedersen, to challenge the assumptions on which the third report’s forecasts are based. “It is imperative that the industry, and the world, base discussions and actions to reduce emissions from shipping on credible and realistic projections,” he says. “If not, we risk making the wrong decisions and spending resources ineffectively.”
“When using a more realistic growth scenario, shipping is projected to achieve an absolute emissions reduction of 20% by 2050 compared to 2008”
Driven by this conviction, BIMCO has proposed that the fourth study does not include gross domestic product (GDP) growth projections, which it considers unrealistically high, to predict future transport demand and thereby emissions of the shipping industry. Specifically, the shipowner group argues that the study should avoid scenarios one and five of the International Panel on Climate Change’s Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSP).
These scenarios project short- to mid-term economic growth that is considerably higher than current economic trends. They also outpace Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) projections by as much as two percentage points. Indeed, it is only the lowest of the five SSPs (scenario 3) that features compound growth in line with current OECD projections.
“The previous study’s most pessimistic projection of a 250% increase in CO2 emissions from shipping has since proven to be totally unrealistic, given the actual and projected economic development of the world,” says Mr Pedersen. “Unfortunately, the 250% projection has frequently been used as a stick against the shipping industry and to shape regional policy. BIMCO wants to avoid that happening again.”
BIMCO has collaborated with CE Delft, the consultancy that modelled and calculated the third study’s projections for future GHG emissions from ships. The companies have produced a revised calculation that includes the most recent OECD projections. The report concludes that when using a more realistic growth scenario, shipping is projected to achieve an absolute emissions reduction of 20%, versus the target of an absolute emission reduction of 50% by 2050 compared to 2008.
Lower transport work projections have recently been supported by DNV GL’s Energy Transition Outlook 2018: Maritime Forecast to 2050 and World Maritime University’s Transport 2040 - Automation, Technology and Employment – The Future of Work. Both decoupled the correlation between growth in GDP and transport demand after 2030, and both arrive at projections well below the recalculation of the third GHG study made by BIMCO and CE Delft. BIMCO is therefore suggesting that the IMO expert workshop take the decoupling of GDP growth and transport work into consideration.
“We will need new solutions, in addition to traditional efficiency measures, to reach the 2050 target,” says Mr Pedersen. To pick the right solutions, the industry needs realistic projections.