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Research project: Carbon Footprinting for maritime organisations

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Amidst the global action being taken by many industries to manage their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the shipping sector has fallen behind in its implementation of GHG reduction mechanisms.

International shipping is not included under the Kyoto Protocol or the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). Consequently, the United Kingdom’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has declared a delay in its inclusion under national policy.

The allocation of responsibility is a significant barrier to the development of ship emissions policy. Unlike aviation, which can be allocated from its departure location to arrival at a 50/50 responsibility share, ship movements tend to have multiple destinations across a number of countries. Nevertheless, emissions reduction in shipping is of paramount importance and an unavoidable near-future development.

Ninety per cent of world trade is carried by sea. The shipping industry continues to grow whilst others are becoming more efficient. Currently, shipping accounts for 3.3% of global emissions. However, if the industry continues its ‘business as usual’ operations with projected growth, shipping could account for over 10% of global emissions by 2050.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has seriously considered the viability of a range of carbon reduction mechanisms for application to the current global fleet of over 100, 000 vessels (in excess of 100 GT). These include market-based instruments as well as technical and operational measures. This is a strong indication that further financial obligations will be cast upon shipping organisations in order to manage GHG emissions.

As it stands, the IMO made additions to MARPOL Annex VI under the section regulating ‘air pollution’. The changes introduced the Energy Efficiency Operational Indicator (EEDI) and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP). The EEDI gradually improves minimum standards for new vessels after 2013 to achieve a projected 50% reduction in emissions by 2050. The SEEMP is used as an operational tool to help ship owners quantify their on-board efficiency of existing ships.

Whichever management mechanism the IMO decides to implement, it will be of high importance for existing organisations to be fully aware of their emissions in order to avoid unwanted costs and unexpected outcomes.

Carbon footprinting is an extremely useful tool that is proving effective in many industries to measure the emissions from a variety of sources. Expressed as a unit of volume in CO2 equivalents, it is best practice to account for both direct emissions, and emissions arising within the supply chain using a combination of a ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ methods.

The University of Southampton’s Carbon Management Group (CMG) and the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute (SMMI) are developing a carbon footprinting method suitable for use in maritime organisations in order to bring them to the forefront of carbon management. Carnival UK will be providing data along with their logistical operator, in order to apply both process analysis and small-scale EIOA to provide useful and accurate outputs. Simultaneously, this research will uncover what the distribution of emissions in a shipping organisation in relation to its entire operations, indicating areas requiring particular attention, and opportunities for financial savings.

Related research groups

Carbon Management Research Group
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