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New ships less fuel efficient than those built in 1990

AcidNews June 2015

Ships are significantly less energy-efficient today than in 1990, calling for greater steps in regulation and binding energy efficiency standards for the shipping sector.

New ships built in 2013 were on average 10 per cent less fuel-efficient than those built in 1990, according to a new study, “Historical trends in ship design efficiency”, by CE Delft. On average, those earlier ships already beat the so-called “Energy Efficiency Design Index” standard that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has set for new ships built in 2020.

This first-ever study of the historical trend in the design efficiency of new ships, commissioned by Seas At Risk and Transport & Environment, finds that bulk carriers, tankers, and container ships built in 2013 were on average 12, 8 and 8 per cent less fuel efficient respectively than those built in 1990.

The findings are particularly valuable as they starkly contradict claims that shipping has been constantly improving its environmental performance. They also demonstrate that market forces cannot by themselves lead to more fuel-efficient ships being built and that more regulation is necessary as well as a much stricter Energy Efficiency Design Index standard. It is interesting that at a time when ships were most energy efficient the price of oil was proportionally much cheaper than today (around $25 vs $100 per barrel, in today’s prices).

John Maggs, policy advisor at Seas At Risk and president of the Clean Shipping Coalition, said: “Now we know that we cannot rely on rising fuel prices, other market forces or the good intentions of industry to solve shipping’s climate problem. Instead we need a clear and ambitious target for reducing ship greenhouse gas emissions and legally binding measures to get us there.”

The IMO will review the stringency levels of its Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) – the efficiency standards for new ships – during a meeting of its Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) in London in May 2015.

Information sources:

CE Delft study:

Press release from Transport and Environment:

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