What is the impact of shipping on climate change?
The Fourth IMO GHG Study (2020) estimated that for the period 2012-2018 the GHG gasses for total shipping have increased from 977 million tons in 2012 to 1,076 million tons in 2018 (9.6% increase). The share of shipping emissions in global annual emissions has increased from 2.76% in 2012 to 2.89% in 2018.
The latest update on shipping GHG emissions by CE Delft projects shipping emissions to increase by up to 120% by 2050 if other sectors decarbonize successfully.
Under a business-as-usual scenario and if other sectors of the economy reduce emissions to keep the global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius, shipping could represent some 10% of global GHG emissions by 2050.
Shipping also contributes to climate change through emissions of Black Carbon, tiny black particles, produced by combustion of marine fuel. The highest amounts of black carbon particles are produced by ships burning heavy fuel oil. Black carbon accounts for 21% of CO2-equivalent emissions from ships, making it the second most important driver of shipping’s climate impacts after carbon dioxide. Currently there are no regulations controlling black carbon emissions from shipping.