Impacts of climate change on ports and shipping
Wright, P. (2013) Impacts of climate change on ports and shipping, MCCIP Science Review 2013, 263-270, doi:10.14465/2013.arc28.263-270
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Ships and ports operate in two distinct but interrelated sectors. The regimes which are present to control emissions in each sector are different.
As ships are regularly required to move across national boundaries it is recognised that the control of ship’s emissions need to be considered at an international level. The work of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in this respect is being carried forward to provide an international framework of control. Member countries of the IMO, an agency of the United Nations, implement and enforce Conventions.
In 2011, the International Maritime Organisation added Chapter 4 “Energy Efficiency for Ships” to Annex 6 of Marine Pollution Prevention Convention (MARPOL 73/78) which came into force on January 1st 2013. The United Kingdom has powers as a Flag State and Port State to enforce the regulations established in the new Chapter of MARPOL Annex 6.
Observations in 2012 suggest that the Arctic ice is melting more quickly than previously considered leading to new opportunities for use of the Arctic Ocean.
Ship designs and primary power plant continue to be developed to reduce carbon emissions. A fossil fuel free cargo ship design and model was tested in 2012 and found economically viable for specific routes.
The United Kingdom’s 2008 Climate Change Act provides the legal framework to ensure that the UK Government meets its commitments to tackle climate change. For example the Act requires that Green House gas emissions are reduced by at least 80% by 2050 when compared to 1990 levels. Ports in the United Kingdom are bound by the requirement of the Act.
In 2011 nine port authorities belonging to the UK Major Ports Group were required by DEFRA, under the Climate Change Act 2008, to provide Climate Change Adaptation Plans.
For some UK port authorities the development of Climate Change Adaptation Plans was the first time they had formally considered the impact of Climate Change upon their operations and infrastructure.
UK ports recognise the issues concerned with climate change including the impact of storm surges, sea-level rise, temperature change, precipitation and high winds, but have to balance risk against the cost of undertaking immediate adaptation plans. Several ports used data from the UK Climate Projections 2009 (UKCP09) to help in their evaluation of the impact of climate change in the Climate Change Adaptation Plans.