Whose shipping emission is it anyway?
8th November 2011 13:30 GMT

To some, the idea of allocating a portion of international shipping emissions to an individual nation is pedantic, to others it can even be vexatious – heralding unilateral action and disruption of an inescapably global system. However, the fact that shipping is a global system should not stop an individual or a country trying to estimate their own responsibility.

This is a key element of the CCC’s recent study on UK emissions, to try and quantify the problem so that it can anticipate the consequence of inclusion of shipping in its carbon budgets on the other sectors of the economy. Without this consideration, the UK’s climate change act would be disingenuous and any route map to fulfil the act’s objective at best inefficient and at worst ineffective.

So last week, when the CCC published their report, it was both a relief and a disappointment. They do advocate that international shipping is included in UK’s 2050 target and future budgets. But to calculate what this responsibility means, they have adopted two different methods in order to give lower and upper bounds estimates – a bottom-up model based on ship activity (11 Mt CO2 in 2006) and a top-down calculation based on tonnes of goods unloaded and corrected with a fudge factor (16 Mt CO2 in 2006). We could quibble about whether the numbers are right, but I’m more interested for now in whether the method is right.

A test for this is what would the methods tell us about other countries? Applied to Austria (or any other landlocked country) they would give us an emission of zero. Applied to the Netherlands or Singapore or other global hubs and transhipment ports, they would give us a large value (sorry I haven’t done the maths), probably much greater than the UK emission. So whilst this is progress beyond the use of national fuel sales (DfT’s preferred accountancy method), have we ended up with another flawed method?

As an alternative, would it not be fairer to say that the share of emissions belonging to a country are those associated with the shipping activity created by the import or export of goods and passengers to/from that country? The choice of import/export depends on whether you fall into the camp that gives responsibility to the producer or the consumer.

We know the shipping activity, we know the trade of goods (imports and exports) and we know technical information about the ships that call at our ports which can be used to estimate their carbon intensity, at least to first order. If we could use EEOI data, we would also have some knowledge about the ballast voyage emissions of the ship, which is so often ignored.

So the information is there, and requires just as many assumptions to piece together as the existing methods. Using such a method, Austria and other land-locked countries could also be apportioned shares of international emissions, which seems rational. And Singapore and the Netherlands would only be allocated in relation to what they produce or consume, not penalised for their role in increasing the overall logistic efficiency of the industry.

One advantage of such a method is that it is just a scaled up version of the accountancy used in many firm’s or individual’s carbon calculators. If you want to account for the carbon footprint of an apple shipped to Europe from NZ, its normal to estimate the voyage(s) (and portion therefore) associated with getting the apple to you the consumer. The nation’s emission responsibility therefore being the aggregate of these component international shipping emissions of all its individual consumers.

Maybe this is just the ramblings of a researcher trying to justify their existence and this doesn’t matter. CCC has shown that emissions from international shipping are significant, and that’s what is important, who cares about a few Mt CO2 either way.
But what’s the point of attempting evidence-based policy if you don’t care for the quality of the evidence?

There’s also a bigger problem - if in 2012, the EU makes their proposal for unilateral action using a contrasting philosophy for ascribing responsibility, it would be embarrassing for the UK and could add confusion to the interpretation of analyses. It is better to get things right first time.

Tristan Smith ,
8th November 2011 13:30 GMT

Comments on this Blog
Caroline Clarke
9th November 2011
Dear Tristan,
This is a most interesting topic. If we take Kyoto Protocol and appreciate that International sea freight shipping is separate from National Greenhouse Accounting - this arrangement is merited, given the variables you have identified with land locked countries and those acting as hubs, to that is to say qualifying Kyoto agreement remaining unchanged. It could be argued that the size on GHG emissions qualify sea freight shipping as a country in its own right, applying “developing country” status.

As to who is responsible shipping operates under a set of terms recognised as Incoterms published by the International Chamber of Commerce - these terms have been in place for decades - the specificity here is FOB as we are addressing sea freight shipping - the onus then is on the buyer and not the seller.
Kind regards
Heinz Otto
9th November 2011
Hi Tristan, I understand your words "another flawed method?" in that way, that the IMO-ET-System is this flawed method, is´n it?
As Caroline know, I am not a shipping-Branch manager, I am struggling since round 35 years for the use of modern square-rigged Bulkers, as Wilhelm Prölss developed in the 60-s. And I know why: because I could smell the fumes, while I have the exhaust gases in the chimney engineer Seatrial measured many ships
It was wrong, to gave the responsibility to the IMO, to reduce there GHG-emissions. DURBAN has the chance, to stop this way of "being late" (IPCC reported it) and give the order back to the countrys , so they include their ships in there CO2-reducing-systems.
As you all know, there is much pressure to the human beings, to act now: the maximum of 2 ° - limit.
Thanks for your BLOG
Heinz Otto, www.windships.de
Caroline Clarke
16th November 2011
Salutations Otto and Tristan,
The ambition on considering this question is to apply to all stakeholders.

We support fairplay in the model on making provision, fiduciary that any savings from emissions are passed down as much as 100% on offsets a passed on - and here we are referring to equity share 33.3% for stakeholders

1. Technical developers
This supports deployment on technical development improving vessel efficiencies, improving capital value of the fleet and reduces carriers operating costs - thereby reducing the freight bill

2. IMO
This supports initiatives in protecting our sea flora and faunahttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHSVw-B0GNE as well as infrastructure in developing countries - consider the potential on initiatives to develop alternatives to piracy the savings potential here is significant http://oceansbeyondpiracy.org/sites/default/files/documents_old/The_Economic_Cost_of_Piracy_Full_Report.pdf

3. Origin and destination
This provides for development on land based infrastructure - here this goes to the health and welfare of our land crews engaging with trading partners

This model supports key stakeholders. The onus on the buyer and not the shipper, however considering the shipper too suffers from the anthropogenic al, C. e. (2007). Mortality from Ship Emissions: A Global Assessment. Newark: College of Marine and Earth Studies, University of Delaware implications realising that the model accounts for ensuring a better quality for all. We refer to FOB in the context that it is the international voyage of the journey Hsu, C. H. (2005). Shipping economic analysis for ultra large containerships’, Vol 6. Taipei: Journal of the East Asia Society for Transportation Studies that the emissions apply to. This is in keeping with WRI and WBCSD published guidelines on Development, W. R. (2011). Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard. Washington : World Resources Institute & World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Again this is underpinned using CDM development - this excellent body of work applies additionality to its methodology accounting for the viability on the initiative Change, U. N. (2010). Clean Development Mechanism. Bonn: Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC) as the principals on application, with WRI and WBCSD Project Protocols Development, W. R. (2005). The GHG Protocol for Project Accounting. Washington & Zurich: WRI & WBCSD supporting primary and secondary implications.

Cellular fleet data Alphaliner 2011, Monthly Monitor, July 2011 identifies our fleet is maturing and the question on return on investment and yield with best possible allowance on time for net present value (NPV) and payback is to act now on establishing the framework..

- International sea freight apply “developing country status" allowing for CDM development

- Terms of reference on applicability on standards

- A reduction on fuel consumption of 5% through technical initiatives

- A carbon price to allow for budget forecasting

Not an impost - cap and trade provides a fair and equitable method on supporting the best outcomes on the health and welfare of all stakeholders upstream and downstream.
Kind regards

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