‘Fitting cargo ships with sails could cut emissions by 40%’

A new report suggests that if action is not taken, shipping could account for as much as 20% of global emissions by 2050

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Fitting sails to cargo ships and moving at slower speeds could reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the shipping industry by 40%.

That’s according to a new report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), which calls for government backing to illustrate how retrofitted sails and wind propulsion can prove viable options to power cargo ships.

The report explains that most of the emissions from the shipping industry derive from international shipping and are not included in individual countries’ reduction targets. However, this week, the UK announced it would include international shipping its emission targets from now on.

IMechE sheds light on the fact that if the industry is not checked, it could account for as much as 20% of global emissions by 2050; as opposed to the 3% it makes up today.

It points to Smart Green Shipping’s study, which claims that retrofitted sails could be the answer to slashing emissions by up to 40%.

It states that solely using alternative fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia will be too expensive for most ships and that wind power combined with these fuels would make the most economic sense.

“We need to use existing and emerging technologies to urgently reduce the impact of our global supply chain on the environment.

“Continuing with the ‘business as usual’ approach could result in shipping being responsible for up to a fifth of global emissions by 2050,” said Dr Jenifer Baxter, Chief Engineer at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.