Nordic shipowners see multiple problems with speed limit

Danish Shipping and the Norwegian Shipowners' Association think that there are many potential pitfalls in implementing a speed limit for vessels in order to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The discussion of a speed limit was instigated by the new ECSA chairman.

Danish Shipping
Photo: Danish Shipping

A speed limit for vessels raises many issues which must be examined thoroughly, according to two Nordic shipowners' associations.

The discussion of a potential speed limit to reduce ships' greenhouse gas emissions was incited by comments from the new chairman of the European Community Shipowners' Association (ECSA).

In an interview with ShippingWatch, the new Chairman, Panos Laskaridis, said that a speed limit should be considered as one of several solutions which could reduce pollution from shipping immediately.

But both Danish Shipping and the Norwegian Shipowners' Association say that the idea has many pitfalls.

Potential speed reductions must take place in a smart way which would prompt the inefficient parts of the global fleet to deliver"

Maria Skipper Schwenn, Executive Director, Danish Shipping

"Of course, there is reduction potential in reducing speed, and this could thus be a tool for individual carriers in their work on contributing to overall reduction targets. However, I don't think that a mandatory speed limit is the right approach as there are several concrete challenges," says Maria Skipper Schwenn, Executive Director of Danish Shipping, to ShippingWatch.

"First and foremost, you risk punishing the carriers which have invested in energy efficient vessels as the old inefficient ships would be just as attractive if speeds are lowered. It would furthermore remove the incentive for innovation. Finally, the need for more ships would grow as seaborne transports grow. A potential speed limit should thus be examined very thoroughly and viewed in light of the sailing patterns in various segments," she says.

Global enforcement

The Norwegian Shipowners' Association also recognizes that greenhouse gas emissions would decline if ships sailed slower. This could be one of several solutions along with using new energy sources and better engine technology, says the CEO of the association, Harald Solberg.

However, he believes a speed limit could cause problems for both shipowners and their customers.

"There are many challenges related to speed limits and it would require that the industry can come to a global agreement. If not, unequal competition conditions will arise. It will require a different kind of planning in the chain of logistics because it will take longer before the goods arrive. And then it depends on whether the customers of shipping accept lower speeds. Finally, there would be operational factors such as storms and other events which would make it demanding to implement this," Solberg tells ShippingWatch.

"In addition, a ship is designed and optimized for a certain speed, and if you reduce the speed on a ship which is designed for 15 knots and sail it as 10 knots then the effect of a speed limit would not necessarily be optimal," he adds.

IMO discussion

The shipping industry is currently working on landing a preliminary climate agreement to ensure that shipping pollutes less and contributes to reaching the temperature targets in the Paris Agreement.

These discussions are taking place in the UN's International Maritime Organization (IMO) which will meet next in April for the Marine Environment Protection Committee's MEPC-72. When this meeting is over, it should result in a list of potential initiatives in the short, medium and long terms.

"Speed reductions are part of the IMO discussions and one of the proposals which is in play as a method in the short term. Danish Shipping is working for the IMO to deliver a solid CO2 reduction strategy this year, which would also contain efforts to reduce CO2 in the short term. Potential speed reductions must take place in a smart way which would prompt the inefficient parts of the global fleet to deliver. This means not penalizing first movers and hindering innovation. For this reason, a mandatory speed limit is not a solution," says Skipper Schwenn of Danish Shipping.

English Edit: Gretchen Deverell Pedersen

Danish Shipping: The challenge of sulfur cheating is real

New ECSA chairman on speed limit for ships: "It would work wonders"

Frontpage right now

Hapag-Lloyd: New BAF will break with old policies

A new bunker adjustment factor at Hapag-Lloyd will help ensure two things, explains Juan Carlos Duk, managing director of global commercial development, to ShippingWatch. The BAF will very much address longstanding criticism from customers.

No supertanker orders in the third quarter

Higher prices and concerns over the order book have meant that the number of new orders for the major VLCC vessels in the third quarter landed at zero, writes JP Morgan in a new report.

DP World looking at Eritrea as a way to sidestep Djibouti troubles

Arabian port major DP World is considering investing in Eritrea as a possible key destination at the Horn of Africa, says CEO. Eritrea could thus become an alternative to Djibouti, where the company is in a dispute with the government concerning a terminal concession.

Aker BP reaches revenue of one billion dollars

Norwegian Aker BP achieved a revenue of one billion dollars in the third quarter and a combined result of USD 123 million after taxes, shows the interim report for the quarter. Rising oil and gas prices boosted the result.

Related articles

Latest news


See all

See all