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At the G7 summit this week, French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed France’s commitment to slow steaming as a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the shipping industry.

It follows an earlier call by the French government to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for slow steaming to become official international policy, with a view to meeting 2020 sulphur cap targets.

Slow steaming is the practice of running cargo ships at much less than their maximum speed, in order to reduce the drag created as they move through the water, thereby reducing fuel consumption.

“We will engage with shipping companies to reduce the speed of merchant ships,” Macron said at the summit. “It is one of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally, and this measure would be a real change.”

According to trade publication Splash, Rodolphe Saade, chairman of CMA CGM, has been chosen by Macron to head a green shipping lobby group.

Macron reiterates support for slow steaming at G7 summit
Credit: Tom Fisk

Macron’s plans have met with resistance from some industry bodies, who have suggested that a one-size-fits-all solution is not appropriate.

Anna Ziou of the UK Chamber of Shipping said: “To achieve a 50% cut in emissions, the shipping industry needs continued investment in green technologies. Those that would allow ships to conduct their business through a range of low-carbon fuels, such as battery power, hydrogen fuel cells or even wind power."

According to Guy Platten of the International Chamber of Shipping: “Simply introducing a mandatory speed limit can have negative impacts on the efficiency of an engine, in the worst cases resulting in increasing emissions.”

Lars Robert Pederson of the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) suggested that regulating a ship’s power use under normal operating conditions would be more effective from a regulatory perspective.

The International Chamber of Shipping also came out against the proposal.

However, others, such as Trafigura, one of the world’s largest commodity trading houses, have supported the idea as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions immediately.

In addition to the 2020 sulphur cap, industry regulators agreed last year to halve carbon emissions by 2050.

Sources: The Loadstar, Splash [1, 2]

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