UNCTAD Meeting Addresses Maritime Transport and the Climate Change Challenge

Maritime Transport and the Climate Change Challenge

19 February 2009: The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) organized a meeting entitled “Maritime Transport and the Climate Change Challenge,” from 16-18 February 2009, in Geneva, Switzerland. Experts attending the gathering underlined that, although seaborne vessels' engines currently contribute between 1.6% and 4.1% of global carbon dioxide emissions, these may triple by 2050, and called for steps to limit the climate-change impact of maritime transport.

Among the means of reducing the carbon footprint of maritime transport, participants mentioned: refinements of hull and vessel design, engines, propulsion systems and operational measures; anticipated future advances in energy use; the sharing of current and new knowledge and technology as they become available; and further study of the issue to devise additional effective measures. Noting that tackling climate change should not be undermined by the current global economic and financial crisis, experts underscored that the economic costs of climate change make steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions a priority. Participants recommended, inter alia: conducting further studies on the relationships between maritime transport and climate change, including the impact of rising sea levels and more extreme weather events on transport infrastructure; paying particular attention to the specific vulnerability of developing countries; and ensuring that decision making keeps pace with the rapidly-progressing climate science. [Meeting Website] [UNCTAD Press Release]