Slowing ships down is perhaps one of the most obvious and certainly the most effective means of reducing ship GHG emissions. Studies suggest that half of all ship GHG mitigation potential is in reduced ship speed. Designing ships to travel slower is one of the easiest ways to meet current targets for improved energy efficiency in new ships and slow steaming , as it’s called, has been widely adopted by the industry as a way of reducing fuel costs (and thus emissions) of existing ships during the recession.
However, slow steaming during the recession has been popular with ship owners because there has been a surplus of ships; when you slow ships down you need more ships to do the same transport work. Once the economy recovers and the surplus ships are all being used there is a real danger that ship owners will speed up to increase the real capacity and thus earning potential of their fleet. This may make sense for their businesses but it doesn’t make sense for the environment or climate.
Seas At Risk is working with partners Transport & Environment to promote sustained reductions in ship speed as a route to fast deep cuts in emissions of GHGs from ships. Reports on some of the research that we have conducted can be found below.