Should cargo ships start going slower on their journeys across the ocean? This is the question being discussed this week at the UN where officials will hear proposals to cut shipping industry emissions by introducing speed limits.
Container ships and other ocean liners in the industry deal with a lot fewer of the complications that overland vehicles face, and limiting speed could be an easy way to kick off an industry move to reduce emissions by 50 percent in the next three decades. Some within the industry disagree with the idea of speed limits, but all are united to reduce emissions—they just disagree on how best to do that.
As of now, however, speed limits seem to be the most effective way to slash emissions, as electric engines and hydrogen fuel-cells are not yet viable carbon-free alternatives. Enforcing a 20 percent speed reduction across the industry would lower greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 25 percent and drastically cut other environmental factors like marine noise pollution and whale collisions by up to 75 percent, according to a report by an advocacy group called Seas at Risk.
If it is possible to spare all those emissions (and whales) just by slowing down a bit, then it’s an option we should definitely consider.
This story was one of the best from 2019, and we are happy to include it in our “12 Days of Optimism” as we get ready to welcome 2020!