Coastwide
(Rebecca Blackwell/AP)

World - Ship owners sought CO2 exemptions when the sea gets too wavy. Those efforts failed.

The world’s ocean freight shipping companies recently called on international maritime authorities to exclude pollution that their vessels spew in bad weather from new regulations, a condition that would apply almost a third of the time in the Atlantic. But the effort failed Friday.

The world’s ocean freight shipping companies recently called on international maritime authorities to exclude pollution that their vessels spew in bad weather from new regulations, a condition that would apply almost a third of the time in the Atlantic. But the effort failed Friday.

Under international laws due to come into force in 2023, all big vessels will be rated from A to E by how much carbon dioxide flows from their stacks for every mile traveled and ton carried. The idea is to incentivize owners to install cleaner technologies. Although the proposed rules are currently toothless, nation states might bring in penalties for high-polluting ships in the future.

In April, four trade groups, including the World Shipping Council, complained that the new rules would penalize ships that have to sail in rough conditions. This burns more fuel and produces more carbon dioxide, meaning ships in windy seas would get a worse carbon efficiency rating.

So the trade groups proposed to the International Maritime Organization in written submissions that periods of eight hours or more undertaken in bad weather be struck from the scoring entirely. They defined bad weather as wind speeds of 28 knots or waves four meters (13.1 feet) high.

“It would pretend that ships hardly ever sail in stormy weather and only calculate the carbon intensity of the ship under the most favorable conditions,” said Bryan Comer, who heads up the marine program at the International Council of Clean Transportation.

The International Maritime Organization, made up of member countries, has now rejected that idea.

Going slow is one of the best ways to reduce emissions. If they had won the exemption, ships could have gone as fast as they wanted in bad weather, Comer said, burning more fuel than usual without it showing up in their ratings. This might enable them to hit tougher deadlines and win contracts.

“There is actually an incentive if this had gone forward to sail in adverse weather,” said Comer.

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