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Governance and regulation of emissions from ships

11 August 2015

Shipping

The Seafarers International Research Centre focus on governance and regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from ships

The Seafarers International Research Centre (SIRC) at Cardiff University School of Social Sciences was established in 1995 to carry out research on seafarers. As the only international research facility of its kind it has built up a wealth of research in this field.

The aims of the centre are broad and include: research into the life of seafarers; building links to generate greater interest and understanding of seafarers and their lives, research on contemporary social issues of our time including globalisation and climate change.

The shipping industry, although relatively carbon-efficient, is projected to produce rising carbon emissions in the future as a consequence of increasing world trade.  The topic of controls on carbon emissions from the shipping industry has received relatively little public policy attention, although international shipping’s greenhouse gas emissions are greater than the total emissions of many countries, including for example, the UK

“Shipping is a significant and growing source of the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change.”

Professor Susan Baker, a co-director at the Sustainable Places Research Institute has been involved in research in to environmental regulations at SIRC. Research by Susan along with Michael Bloor and Helen Sampson and Katrin Dahlgren in to the “Effectiveness of international regulation of pollution controls: the case of the governance of ship emissions” was funded by the ESRC and was conducted from 2010 until the end of 2012. 

Ships' engines generate global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions greater than those of the aviation industry, while also generating very large amounts of nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx) and particulates, which (although not contributing to global warming) have detrimental effects on air quality and human health. Professor Susan Baker, Michael Bloor and Helen Sampson conducted research assisting the UN's International Maritime Organisation in research in to possible means of reducing global ship emissions of CO2. Researchers shadowed Swedish and UK Port-State Control Officers on ship inspections in the North Sea and Baltic ECAs and interviewed stakeholders in an attempt to find consensus for the future of CO2 controls.

Back in March 2012, the research group provided written evidence to the House of Commons transport select committee and a number of reports and papers have been published from the research.

The most recent paper was published in July 2015 entitled “Enforcement Issues in the Governance of Ships’ Carbon Emissions” in the Special Issue “Climate Change and International Economic Law: Chiasms and Complementarities” in Laws 20154(3), 335-351 and can be found here - http://www.mdpi.com/2075-471X/4/3/335.