Carbon dioxide from ships at sea to be regulated for first time

© Getty Images Smoke rises from a ferry docked in Dover.

Carbon dioxide from ships at sea will be regulated for the first time following a historic agreement reached after two weeks of detailed talks in London.

Shipping companies will halve their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 under the plan, brokered by the International Maritime Organization and binding across its 170 member states.

The agreement will require a revolution among ships, which are overwhelmingly fuelled by heavy oils at present. In future, they will have to not only be more energy-efficient, but also make use of cleaner energy, in the form of batteries supplying electricity, solar and wind electricity generation, and perhaps even a return to sail in some cases, or more controversially to nuclear power, as some warships already use.

Environmental campaigners said the plan was not enough given the urgency of tackling climate change, though they welcomed the deal, which has taken decades of work. Greenhouse gas emissions from shipping and aviation were omitted from the 1997 Kyoto protocol and have been excluded from regulations on carbon ever since, even though shipping is used for 80% of global trade.

Although shipping accounts for only about 2% of global carbon emissions, it has been a cause of particular concern, both because of the increased need for transport under the globalising economy and because many ships use dirty, carbon-rich fuels such as heavy diesel, which would be banned in many countries from ons....

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