Environmental Audit Committee

17 July 2008


Reducing CO2 and other emissions from shipping

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) is today launching an inquiry into emissions from shipping. This will concentrate on shipping's contribution to climate change, though it will also examine its impacts on air quality.

According to recent reports, annual global CO2 emissions from shipping are 1.2 gigatonnes, 4.5% of the total global output of CO2, three times higher than previously thought and twice the amount attributed to aviation. In terms of its impacts on air quality, a recent report suggested global shipping emissions led directly to 60,000 deaths a year.

International shipping has received comparatively little attention in climate change policy and research, both in the UK and internationally. In its 2006 report into Reducing Carbon Emissions from Transport, EAC commented:

[...] this issue received very little coverage across the 70 memos we received, and our impression is that there may be insufficient attention, from both governments and NGOs, on this issue to generate the kind of pressure on the negotiating process overseen by the International Maritime Organization required to generate a timely solution. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, for instance, wrote to us: "This, almost wholly, neglected sector is growing rapidly yet remains essentially outside the DfT's emissions brief".

International shipping was excluded from the targets agreed under the Kyoto Protocol, the reasoning given that there was not any international agreement on the method by which these emissions should be divided and attributed to individual states.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is currently developing proposals for an international scheme or schemes to tackle greenhouse gases from shipping. It plans to submit a position paper on its proposals to the Copenhagen Conference (December 2009) on climate change, which will decide a successor agreement to Kyoto. The European Commission has indicated that maritime transport may be included in Phase III of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme if progress on a global agreement covering shipping emissions is not forthcoming from the IMO.

At an IMO conference in June 2008, the Rt Hon Ruth Kelly MP, the Secretary of State for Transport, said that the UK and other nations had a "duty to continue to look at proposals for putting a price on carbon through a global emissions trading scheme for shipping to incentivise the industry to improve the carbon efficiency of ships. We must also look at the potential for reducing emissions with new technologies like hydrogen fuel cells and making operational improvements like slowing down ships to maximise fuel efficiency."

The Climate Change Bill, as currently before Parliament, excludes the UK's share of CO2 from international maritime freight and leisure travel from the UK's carbon budgets. Under the terms of the Bill, the Government must within five years either include these emissions within UK carbon budgets, or report to Parliament explaining why not. In its 2007 report on the draft Climate Change Bill, EAC called for international maritime emissions to be included within UK carbon budgets and targets immediately.

The Committee invites organisations and members of the public to submit memoranda setting out their views on these issues. Some specific subjects on which the Committee would welcome comments are set out below, although respondents are free to comment on any issues which they consider relevant:

€ How significant is global shipping's contribution to climate change? How is this projected to change in the future?

€ How should the UK's share of international maritime emissions be measured and included in UK carbon budgets? How fast could this be done?

€ What are the prospects of international agreements to control and reduce carbon emissions from global shipping, or to bring it within wider emissions trading schemes? How well is the UK Government playing a role in developing such agreements?

€ What are the prospects for developing new engine technologies and fuels, as well as more fuel-efficient operations? What more could the Government do to assist these developments?

€ What are the effects of shipping on UK air quality and public health? How well is the Government tackling this, and what more could it do?

The Committee asks for written submissions in accordance with the guidelines stated below by Monday 15 September 2008. Evidence sessions are likely to take place in October / November.

Please note

Each submission should:

€ Be no more than 3,000 words in length;

€ Begin with a short summary in bullet point form;

€ Have numbered paragraphs; and

€ Be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to eacom@parliament.uk and marked 'Shipping Emissions Inquiry'. An additional paper copy should be sent to:

Clerk of the Committee
Environmental Audit Committee
House of Commons
7 Millbank

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals submitting written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please supply a postal address so a copy of the Committee's report can be sent to you upon publication.

A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website at:


Please also note that:

€ Material published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.

€ Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organisation submitting it is specifically authorised.

€ Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

€ Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.


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