Timon Singh

Why are Shipping Emissions Excluded from the UK's 2050 Carbon Target?

by , 11/03/11

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While it seems only logical for the UK to include all major transportation emissions in their carbon targets, it turns out this has not been the case. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recently called for the UK government to no longer ignore the shipping sector’s growing environmental impact and include these emissions in its 2050 carbon targets. As it stands, global shipping is estimated to account for more than 3 percent of all annual global emissions.

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The CCC has warned that the UK’s share of global emissions will equate to 18 million tonnes of CO2 by 2050 – that’s 11% of the UK’s overall carbon budget, a red flag percentage that should have raised eyebrows much sooner. But why has the UK government not included shipping carbon emissions into their overall goals? Well the answer, as always, is money. If they were to include UK shipping into the targets, other parts of the economy would be required to make deeper cuts in order to compensate.

Currently, the government estimates UK shipping emissions at around 10 million tonnes of CO2, but there are worries that this is much lower than the actual figure, as ships importing and exporting goods from the UK often refuel at cheaper European ports.

So what does the CCC suggest to stop global shipping being the exception to the rule? After all, if road transport and planes have to make cuts, what makes boats so special? Well, their report suggests two recommendations for the government:

Include shipping emissions in the 2050 target and carbon budgets immediately, after an accurate methodology has been determined.

Make them part of the 2050 target now, but only include them in the rolling five-year carbon budgets after a method to measure emissions has been completed

We’ll see if the UK government yields to this clear oversight. As David Kennedy, CCC CEO states, “(The report) confirms shipping emissions are material and if we’re not talking about shipping emissions we are missing a potential non-trivial source.”

+ The Committee on Climate Change (CCC)

Via BBC News

Lead image © dungodung

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