Speed limits will stifle decarbonisation  progress,warns Maersk

By : Anastassios Adamopoulos

IMPOSING speed limits will keep older and inefficient tonnage at sea and distract from necessary investment in future fuels, research and development and technology, according to Maersk. Ahead of international negotiations at the IMO, top officials from the world’s largest shipping company warned against a prospective measure that has been tabled as a quick yet short-term fix for shipping’s greenhouse gas emissions, and said regulators should instead embrace other approaches to improving operational efficiency. Maersk chief adviser on climate change John Kornerup Bang argued that on a political level, imposing speed limits did not reward early movers, which could be dangerous for the next phase of decarbonisation. “But more importantly it is a clear incentive, will be an incentive to keep old and inefficient tonnage for too long,” he said in an interview with Lloyd’s List. Decarbonising shipping, or even achieving a minimum 50% reduction in emissions, as agreed by regulators last year, would need innovation, new fuels and a technological shift that would require investments, he said. “It is a game of capital expenditure into new vessels at the right time and therefore the short-term measures must not incentivise to just keep the old fleet in the waters for too long because it is going to bite us in our backs later,” he said.

The International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee is currently engaged in two-week negotiations in London to discuss measures it can take to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by shipping.


Proposals to impose mandatory speed limits have become the epicentre of public attention ahead of the meeting, dividing opinion.

Some voices, such as theUK Chamber of Shipping,have highlighted potential perils, while the Danish and Dutch shipping associations have also expressed opposition.

On the other hand, a coalition of over 100 shipping companies and environmental non-governmental organisations threw their weight behind the measure via an open letter to the IMO last week.

None of the major container carriers signed up for that.

Proponents of speed limits have protested against the counter-investment criticism levied against such curbs, pointing out that Maersk itself has actually engaged in slow steaming while also actively pushing to become more efficient and less polluting.

But Maersk director for regulatory affairs Simon Bergulf told Lloyd’s List the point was moot, saying that the company initiated that strategy around a decade ago in the aftermath of the financial crisis and it was driven by commercial reasons.

“The difference between container and tramp shipping is that our fuel costs are paid directly so we have an inherent motivation to actually invest in our own fleet. Whereas on the other side there is a higher preference for prescriptive measures,” he said.

Mr Kornerup Bang also emphasised that though Maersk had high targets to improve the efficiency of its fleet, it was aware that this would only maintain the company’s absolute emissions curve as flat.
“Short-term reductions need to bear in mind that efficiency measures will only keep absolute emissions flat. To go toward 50% reduction it is about the technology shift and therefore the measures need to be designed that enable that technology shift," he said.

Source : Lloydslist



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