New policy instruments needed for shipping

A Swedish research project called “Carrots and whips in shipping to achieve environmental quality goals” has analysed which policy instruments and measures are most cost-effective to reduce ship emissions into the air. The study focussed on the impact of ship emissions on four of the Swedish environmental quality targets related to air pollution as well as on the IMO’s climate goals. Analyses of new emission scenarios up to 2030 and 2045 showed that the environmental targets for shipping emissions will not be reached with current legislation. Even the most optimistic scenarios with relatively large changes in the shipping fuel mix are not expected to lead to the attainment of the climate targets.

In the case of greenhouse gas reduction, the researchers propose to include shipping in the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) or a similar global system. Speed reduction is another suggestion. To reduce NOx emissions, a (Northern) European NOx fund that provides incentives for investments is proposed. Using electricity for the propulsion of ships and for onshore power in ports can be societally profitable, according to the analysis.

“We also recommend more research and development on different types of renewable fuels as well as policy instruments to promote the production of such fuels,” said lead author Inge Vierth, at the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI).

The main report “Policies and measures to reduce air emissions from shipping”, VTI notat 24A-2019, is available at:

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