Reducing emissions from ships requires many tools

The need for reduced emissions for shipping is clear, and the way to achieve that goal is to consider all the tools in the toolbox and apply the best ones


Just days ago, we declared our support for and involvement in reducing the climate impact from shipping by joining the Getting to Zero coalition. As we share responsibility for achieving a sustainable shipping industry, we are looking at many possibilities of getting there.

We are continuously carrying out improvements to our operational efficiency, resulting in a 17% reduction in emissions over the last 10 years in terms of CO2 per gross tonnage per nautical mile, and we are working with our partners towards cleaner shipping.

Other shipping companies have recently argued in favour of sailing slower to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. However, Poul Woodall, DFDS’ Director of Environment, sees this as just one tool in the toolbox, and thinks that other solutions fit better into the complex set of factors involved in moving freight and passengers by sea the way we do it in DFDS.

Poul says: “It is possible to find more immediate savings in emissions without impeding our core business by setting up rules that might do more harm in the end. One example is testing a solution at the merged ports of Ghent, Terneuzen and Vlissingen, which is estimated to save 30-40,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. Improved planning of the Terneuzen lock, through which some 10,000 sea-going vessels passed last year, is expected to reduce delays considerably, and thereby reduce the number of ships having to use more fuel to make up for lost time.

“From our perspective, we want the captain and crew to exploit their expertise fully with regard to efficient sailing based on the capabilities and conditions of each vessel, which also vary in different regions, and fluctuate with the seasons and even on a daily basis. Sea currents, weather, how vessels use their auxiliary engines and many other factors all play a part in determining the most efficient sailing routes and speeds. Obligatory average speed reductions or speed limits might not work as intended; in fact they could even encourage companies to stick to older, slower and less efficient vessels.”

September 27, 2019