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Cutting the speed of ships has benefits for humans, nature and climate – report (bbc.com)
118 points by pseudolus 24 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 117 comments



All well and good, but who is going to enforce these speed limits in international waters?

Reading Ian Urbina's Outlaw Ocean[1] was an eye opener regarding what activities happen in effectively un-policed international waters.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/oct/02/the-outlaw-oce...


Countries could have bilateral agreements on timing departure and arrival and from this calculating the average cruising speed (all other conditions taken into account, of course).

Now, there are still ways to cheat that, but my gut feeling is that cheating would be more expensive than just following the agreement.


In the US, you already have to report the cargo’s arrival date before it leaves its origin port. So the information is there.

Graduate the port fees based on average speed for arrival.


It's hard to visualize, but a ship's engine speed is only one factor in its overall speed across an ocean, even with powerful engines, wind and especially current will improve or degrade a ship's overall speed as measured by satellite. So a naive port fee based on time of departure will not exactly work.


I thought all ships have some kind of international tracking system now?

You should be able to accurately estimate all ships's speeds, using basic high school physics, from a site like https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/centerx:-12.0/cent...


Speed != to fuel burned.


It's a roughly accurate measure though. If there's a storm that slows them down, it would be perfectly acceptable for them to burn more fuel to arrive in port on time.


I think you are wrong about this, there are so many variables and sea conditions can affect things, for example older engines and maintenance at sea. AIS data is also known to be wildly inaccurate.

Source: built an engine performance model at a maritime company.


Require reporting engine run times and performance stats to regulatory bodies, along with fuel loading data from fuel providers.


Too easy to fake. Maybe instead base it off of fuel consumption. At the end of the day, they can't fake a full tank of gas -- Require it to be documented when they buy fuel and use that to approximate what they're using for a cross-seas voyage (giving appropriate margin so that in case of storm/emergency they can still make it, but perhaps tax them if they eat into buffer)


Actually laughing at this, you have no idea, the people onboard type in the engine data and usually they type the exact same thing as the last reading with some decimal points changed and 0 if they were stopped (even though ships use plenty of fuel even if stopped usually).


Or just put a carbon tax on the fuel.


"It's a roughly accurate measure though"

It's the ships speed relative to the water what causes any fuel consumption. For the purposes of saving fuel, if you don't know the water surface speed, you know nothing.


Precisely! You could be going slowly against the tide or current or weather and using loads more fuel - you ask anyone who has been at sea about weather and localised conditions that don't show up on satellites are common enough for me to believe the on ship reports.


Not gonna happen. Even if you implemented this, port capacity dictates that a docking time slot is always going to trump a speed incentive.

There are steep contractual penalties for missing your time slot.


AIS devices are mandatory for all ships of 300tonnes+, meaning the data is open and can be monitored by anyone!


AIS can be turned off. This does raise red flags, but it doesn't seem to stop ships doing it, about 20 million times.[1][2]

[1] https://www.wired.co.uk/article/ships-turn-off-tracking-syst...

[2] https://usa.oceana.org/publications/reports/avoiding-detecti...


It's also trivial to spoof.


These days almost every ship is or can be easily tracked.

https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/centerx:-12.0/cent...

Also, it can be easily checked when the ship left/entered the port.


Nearly all ships are registered to a country. By registering with a country you agree that the laws of that country apply. Those laws can include anything they country wants - including speed limits enforced by whatever means. In return the Navy of that country (and applied Navies of other countries) will help defend you from pirates and other military action.

There is such as thing as unregistered ships. They are called almost always pirates up to no good: most navys will sink them on sight. Most ports will not allow an unregistered ship.


Panama and Liberia together account for 1/3 [1] of global shipping (by gross tonnage).

Together they have a blue water navy of 0 ships [2].

Even if these 2 countries would like to add relevant laws, they will not be able to enforce them.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_merchant_navy_capacity...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_level_of_...


The Paris MOU and Port State Inspection changed the status quo here forever.

If an Open Registry (the technical name for a "Flag of Convenience") doesn't enforce rules the Port States (mostly economically important countries with a coastline) care about that flag essentially labels you as likely non-compliant - and whether you are or not it's a world of pain because those Port States care.

So most of the famous Flags of Convenience cleaned their acts up. It just made too much financial sense.

You can try mumbling about how Port State Control isn't fair, but the people who think it is have guns and money and you don't. In this case (and many previously) this works in our favour.


Might makes Right, that's obvious. No mumbling about it.

Now if State Powerful wants to pean itself about how good and fair they are, I'll laugh at their faces. Again, no mumbling.


Panama at least has close ties to the US. If they want to enforce laws they can call the US and get a large fleet to help. Panama also has the canal which is important to global shipping: if they want to they can refuse ships passage if they don't comply with whatever rules they want.

Of course the IF above is big. I don't know how to get Panama to care.


You place a fine if the ship arrives too soon at the destination. There are still ways to cheat the system, e.g. make an undocumented stop, but compliance should be the easiest way. Of course it would also increase the cost of shipping as you either need more ships to reach the same tonnes of goods per year and/or pay the captains more since they are at sea for longer.


Enforcement at destination countries is far too simplistic to assume. There are too many countries who just won't care, for example Somalia, Haiti, many in S.E. Asia, and many others where a bribe will suffice.

Then there are a lot of question marks regarding the jurisdiction of a destination country when the ship is flagged elsewhere. How or who enforces the penalty on this ship? And if such a penalty is applied, the ship owners simply change name and move to a different country's flag.

This is exactly the same problem with illegal fishing. Perpetrators are getting away with it because effective policing is not happening.


I agree. For example, it would also allow ships to make up time lost to rough weather by ignoring the speed limits later in the passage (which is probably not good for the environment).

I also don't know that a blanket speed limit makes sense for all ships. The longer the waterline length of a ship (for a given weight) the easier it is for it to make a given speed.

I feel like a better metric could be used, like fining vessels for trips which consume more than X tonnes of fuel for a ton of cargo where X is designed to be met only by building highly efficient ships or by existing ships operating at reduced speed.


The countries that care about regulations are typically also those who import and export most stuff. Once you're in a port you're subject to the local laws, so imposing a fine should be no legal hassle.


It is self enforcing. More speed needs more fuel which needs more money. New ships are already built with engines optimized for

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow_steaming

Older ships are being modified. All engine manufacturers advertise those kits/modifications and their benefits.


Destination countries can enforce it.


We noticed you sailed to us at 10 knots when the speed limit was 5, saving you ten hours. You will now be held waiting to unload for 10*2 hours.


Only if it's convenient. Docking time slots are limited, fleeting, and expensive. If there's an open spot, and a ship ready to unload, it's going to get unloaded.


According to the article, ships locations are tracked by satellite these days.


The mean-value theorem?


20% increase in the world's trading inventory and working capital tied up to get a 0.7% reduction (24% x 3%) in emissions. Yeah makes complete sense to pursue vs. other avenues! </sarcastic>


Plus increase in labour costs due to slower transit times, longer shipping times pushing more companies to use air transport... a whole lot of unintended consequences.

I think its still best to focus our political willpower on accelerating the transition to electric vehicles. There is the obvious human health benefit of not having hundreds of millions of tiny engines exhausting fumes at the ground level of cities.


> I think its still best to focus our political willpower on accelerating the transition to electric vehicles.

Electric vehicles, for the near term, remain a toy of rich people. Apartments will NOT have electrified parking lots, outside of a select few spaces. Tesla's "Supercharger" requires 150 kW of power-delivery per parking space. (Average american household uses ~30 kW-hrs per day, or roughly 1.25 kW on the average).

The real solution is public transportation. Electrifying public transportation (ex: monorail, trams, electric busses, etc. etc.) forces the ENTIRE car-less class to go electric. We're talking about 20%+ of America will be "forced into electric" if public transit were upgraded.

Pushing more Americans onto public transit will only make those numbers better. Tax incentives to Amtrak / Busses and other such programs should make public transit more popular.


>Apartments will NOT have electrified parking lots, outside of a select few spaces

Why not? Are you sure that won't happen as demand increases? Is it too expensive? How much does it cost?

I was in London recently and they had electrified lamp posts. None of the houses had garages so this enabled the residents to buy electric.


> Why not? Are you sure that won't happen as demand increases? Is it too expensive? How much does it cost?

I don't have the real numbers. But I can run some estimates in my head to see what is or isn't reasonable.

I'm thinking on the scale of my neighborhood. I have ~5000 housing units in my neighborhood (Mixed-housing development: single-family, townhomes, condos, and rental properties such as apartments). We have a bit over 12,000 humans living in my neighborhood.

The neighborhood design is currently scaled at maybe 20MW of power or less. I don't know for sure, but 6MW (average daily load), x3 because summer has higher loads (air conditioning)... just for a rough estimate for the power-infrastructure of my neighborhood.

Again, I don't have precise numbers. But 20MW capacity is probably the capacity of my neighborhood covering 12,000 people.

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20MW will cover 133 Tesla Superchargers (150kW per). That is to say, to provide 3% of the homes in my neighborhood with a supercharger, the power-capacity needs to be doubled for the entire neighborhood.

A more reasonable estimate is for 22kW chargers (much slower, but 3-phase power and more easily supported for sure). In this case, roughly 900 chargers can be installed if my neighborhood doubles its electric capacity (18% of homes can have an electric vehicle).

And many homes are 2x or 3x car households. So really we're aiming at 200% or 300% cars-to-homes ratio if you want to go "all electric vehicles" across the whole neighborhood. To get there, my neighborhood needs to deploy something on the order of 200MW of power-capacity.

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So now, ask yourself. What is approximately the cost of providing 10x more electricity to every single neighborhood in the country? Its not going to be cheap, that's for sure.


Overnight charging does not require a supercharger. That's for quick stops on long journeys. All people need on a daily basis in their apartment buildings are ~4kW outlets which in the 220V world is basically any outlet.

And mind you those cars charge at night, when people are not using as much electricity.

Tesla Model 3 has a range of 250 miles at 54kWh. Say you need a range of 50 miles every day. 50mi/250mi range * 54kWh = 10.8kWh per day. This can easily be charged overnight at ~3.5kW (220V * 16A) - will take a little over 3 hours.


I understand that my estimates are a bit off, but you're welcome to provide a back-of-the-napkin power-capacity result yourself if you think you have a better methodology.

5000-homes x 7kW charger == 35MW of capacity that needs to be added to my neighborhood. Still a lot of electricity, no matter how you cut it (upgrading from 20MW current capacity -> 55MW).

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As I said, I don't have hard numbers. But we need a starting point that we agree upon for planning purposes. If you have better numbers, please share.

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> Tesla Model 3 has a range of 250 miles at 54kWh. Say you need a range of 50 miles every day. 50mi/250mi range * 54kWh = 10.8kWh per day. This can easily be charged overnight at ~3.5kW (220V * 16A) - will take a little over 3 hours.

EDIT: https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/noframes/41189.shtml

26 kWh/100 miles. EPA measures 13kW-hrs of charging every 50-miles. So my numbers are slightly different, but still within the magnitude of your result.

But that mileage will be different in the winter. This link suggests a drop of 33% efficiency... so 50-miles needs 20 kw-hrs of charging. https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/33-range-loss-in-col...


For America: The average commute is 16 miles. 16x2/250x54kWh = 6.912kWh/day. Most modern residential circuits are 15 or 20 amps, so we're looking at a max load of either (15A x 120V =) 1800W or (20A x 120V =) 2400W. 6.912kWh/1.8kW = 4 hours of charging.

5000 * 1.8kW = 9MW when all cars are pulling the maximum load. Mind you, they will be pulling it at night, when there is excess capacity available due to lower energy use from other appliances.


> The average commute is 16 miles.

That's 32-miles from home-to-work-and-back, not including grocery shopping or kids activities, or leisure activities (ball-games, bar, restaurants).

I think 50-miles is closer to reality. The average car is driving far, far, more than 16-miles per day in my experience.

32-miles just from work alone.

> max load of either (15A x 120V =) 1800W or (20A x 120V =) 2400W.

No sane person will be charging on 120V x 15A. Your 77kW-hr Tesla 3 will take 42-hours to charge on that circuit. 20A x 120V is going to take 32-hours to charge from empty. Similarly ridiculous.

Well, almost. I actually am a big proponent of hybrid-vehicles. A hybrid vehicle with 50-mile capacity will charge on a 120V x 15A circuit every night just fine (and use gasoline as a range-extender when necessary). Until power-infrastructure is better built out, I think the PHEV model is going to be friendlier to our cities and neighborhoods.

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To put it another way: 120V x 15A circuits charge your car at 7-miles (of range) per hour (of charging). For small batteries such as PHEVs (Volt, Prius Prime), this might be sufficient (20-miles of electric charge, maybe 50). For a 220+ mile Tesla 3 (or any other high-range electric vehicle), that's too slow.


I agree you'd want a better circuit. In Europe, people will simply use three-phase outlets to get 12kW. We are talking about average power consumption overnight though. About whether huge infrastructure changes are immediately necessary/insurmountable, or if we'll get by just fine. Trickle charging to replenish the energy used on an average day clearly does not need a lot of power. Even 50 miles can be recharged in 5 hours overnight.


Sometime in the next 10 years, we'll have "smart grid" systems which will coordinate high-load activities such as car charging, appliance usage, air conditioners and more.

"Smart grid" doesn't exist yet however. For now, people will plug in their vehicles... maybe synchronized after 8pm (or whenever "night-time" energy kicks in, to save a bit of $$$), and charge at 7kW from their 3-phase power unit for the next 2 or 3 hours.

The energy companies will see this as a big spike at 8pm when the car-charger timers automatically go off, and then the energy usage will let off by 12-midnight or so.


What you keep seeming to miss is that you only charge the amount you drive. If you drive 50 miles you can charge on a level 1 (120V 12A = 1.4kW) in 8 hours while you sleep. It does not matter whether the car is a Spark EV (18kWh battery) or a Tesla P100 (100kWh battery) because you only charge to replace the amount you used up, not the total amount the car could hold.


If you have a Tesla Model 3, and drive 100-miles in a day (ex: go to work, visit your cousins for their birthday, then come home), it will take 14-hours on a regular 120V x 15A charger to recharge those 100-miles.

8-hours of charging on 120V x 15A charger only charges 55 miles. You won't "recover" the 100-miles until 20-days later (-100-miles from a big-driving day, +55 miles of charge on Day1. -50 miles on the 2nd day, +55 miles on Day2, etc. etc).

Realistically speaking, the 120V x 15A charger is simply insufficient for people who actually drive 50-miles a day (and occasionally drives 100-miles).

Factor in the 33% loss of energy in the winter, factor in a mistake or two (ex: forgetting to plug in the vehicle), factor in a few nights without power (ex: hurricane or California Fires), and you're completely sunk.

----------

If you're buying electric, you need the 7kW charger (or faster), to ensure that your vehicle is fully topped off every night. That way, on your "emergency" days when two or three things happen (hurricane + visiting the cousins), you'll have enough charge to actually make it through the day.

Alternatively, buy a PHEV so that you can always leverage gasoline in those high-milage or power-outage situations.


> 20% increase in the world's trading inventory

Which will most probably cause the producers to want to reduce that inventory by not producing that much anymore, which will further ease the pressure on the environment. Yeah, that will most probably raise some prices, but as a species we can't have our cake and eat it at the same time, at some point we do have to price in the externalities.


> Which will most probably cause the producers to want to reduce that inventory by not producing that much anymore

I don't think that's how that works. I'm pretty sure producers produce because there is demand and they are selling their product. They aren't producing for the fun of it.


> there is demand and they are selling their product.

I agree with this, but reducing the ships' speed will reduce the rate and the price at which you can potentially deliver said products to the consumers, which in effect will reduce the effective demand.

As an example, I bet there's lots of people that would want to have rocks delivered to them from the Moon, i.e. there is a notional demand for Moon rocks, but because transporting rocks from the Moon to said customers is prohibitively expensive the effective demand for such an item is close to 0. Making trans-oceanic transport more expensive works the same way.


Wouldn't this just move more goods that need to be delivered time-sensitively to the air, which pollutes even more?


Some of them probably, yeah, but it will make them more expensive by at least an order of magnitude so that demand will certainly fell. Measures like these are in effect additional taxes.


That's when I'm getting lost

>but reducing the ships' speed will reduce the rate and the price at which you can potentially deliver said products (Emphasis mine)

The moon rock argument would be solid if the prices were to rise, but by your own admission, it would lower them. The regulation just bans "high-speed" expensive shipping.

As another commenter has stated, this will just make time-sensitive shipments to switch to the cheapest alternative, and for non-time-sensitive items like consumer goods, this will just mean higher stockpiling in origin.

As anyone who has work on In-demand manufacturing will tell you, the slower the transport the higher the waste.


How do you get to the conclusion that producers will want to reduce their output?

If anything they will increase it, since the feedback loop that tells them when to cut back is now way slower, and most consumer facing would rather overproduce than lose sales.


> How do you get to the conclusion that producers will want to reduce their output?

An output that just sits as additional inventory doesn't actually produce any revenues, at some point it becomes economically rational to reduce said output to levels that make sense again (i.e. that don't sit in deposits collecting dust instead of being in customers' hands half a world away).


Alternatively couldn't that easily cause a rise in the number of ships at sea instead? Less supply for the demand means that it would pay to get into it even with reduced yield. And building around 20% more ships isn't exactly trivial environmentally.


Speed limits wouldn't price in any externalities.


As I tried to explain earlier, speed limits will most probably reduce the rate at which products are sold, which will most probably cause the price of said products to increase. That's the "price in" element I had in mind.


That's not pricing in an externality though, it's just raising the cost.


Other commentators are pointing out your gross flippancy about world capital and whatnot. I will say, when optimizing code, I take every 0.7% improvement I can get. As the world shifts to optimizing for CO2 emissions, every 0.7% that can be done soon and without capital investment is a no-brainer.

The fast ships are likely operating at inefficient speeds, which is only made possible by transporting premium cargo where the increased costs are absorbed by the ultimate higher prices of the goods. In a real sense, the world is paying too much by a psychological need for instant gratification.

Note that cargo ships have all sorts of negative externalities beyond CO2 emissions. For example, the studies that are coming out now on the impact of fine particulates... well, I’d short the Diesel engine all the way to $0. So while a carbon tax might be the best global win for all industries, this sounds like one that could be implemented tomorrow and have a real impact.


Are you implying that most of the world's trading inventory and working capital is, at any given moment, afloat on cargo ships ?


no, but the value is staggering given that commercial vessels may have hundreds of millions of dollars of product aboard at any given time [1]

Check out the the number of commercial ships on this map - tell me slowing them all down is a good idea for world trade. [2]

[1] https://cdn.ihs.com/www/pdf/Vessel-Accumulation-Cargo-Value-...

[2] https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/centerx:-15.5/cent...


That's a huge reduction in world emissions for a rather tiny cost.


How confident are you in the estimate of cost? Heck, I'm not even confident in the estimation of emission reduction - this seems very much like something that might have weird knock on effects that causes surprising results.


All ships in my region now have to slow down compared to just a year or two ago. In recent years right whales have migrated into the gulf of St. Lawrence. Ships were plowing into a whale each week it seemed.

When the order was given to slow down many cruise ships opted to just not come here. But now it seems they understand the problem and follow the rules.

It's become so bad recently that even a Coast Guard ship hit a right whale.


As whales come back to their natural population levels - from memory 100 or 1000 times today! - this will become a big problem.


Why doesn't the theory of evolution work here? "The whales who get out of the way of ships will evolve forward"


Evolution is really really really slow. Ships are not.


Whales are also intelligent enough to learn that ships might be harmful, but it will still take time. ~70 years is nothing on an evolutionary scale


Whales are intelligent and social. The problem is the oldest whales are getting to be too young to remember whaling, so they're no longer scared of ships, as a society.

Sightseeing expeditions encouraging whales to approach boats doesn't help either.


I'm sure it does. Whales evolve slowly though, since they can live for centuries.

Then again they're fairly smart, so they might figure out strategies.

I expect we'll also make ships easier for them to spot.


Analogy: "In the past, a well-meaning body of public servants decided there was a need to slow down microprocessors to protect jobs threatened by automation, reduce resource consumption and benefit the climate. CPU frequency was capped at 25MHz and instruction length was limited to 8 bits. The move was hailed as a great victory for humans, nature and the climate"

As a nation, where would we be today (compared to where we are) if a policy like that had actually been adopted?


This analogy is completely broken, obviously.

But off-topic: I wonder what computers would look like if there _were_ arbitrary restrictions like that. What directions would we have pursued in microarchitecture, distributed systems, etc etc if there was a regulation capping clock speed or number of transistors, or a rule that made it illegal to have asymmetric network connections?


Look at mobile CPUs? What limits them might have arised naturally, but it's still quite arbitrary (battery life, cooling capacity).


Enlighten me. How is the analogy broken?


Electronic devices != giant diesel engines with very very specific use cases.


A faster computer can shutdown or enter a lower power mode earlier. The base power draw of a computer hardly changes if you replace just the processor with a faster clocked one.


There's no Moore's law for ship speeds. If there were, then in the century since tea clippers we'd have ships somehow zipping across the sea at a decent fraction of the speed of light, somehow using less power than the baseline.

In fact that probably would have already made the case for speed restrictions, as every multi-thousand-knot container ship created its own tsunami. There have long been speed restrictions on canals at a few miles an hour to avoid erosion.


We would have adapted to the situation we found ourselves in. Some of the most creative solutions can come from constrained environments.


So you compare automation with pollution? Really?


Nope. Automation is technology and so is transportation. Both can cause pollution but that's besides the point.


We'd be dying on the roads in droves because faster is always better ?


Ocean shipping is extremely energy efficient. As the article says, it produces only 3 percent of the global co2. Cost benefit ratio is very good.

There is still room to improve:

* scrubbers or cleaner fuels can reduce pollutants other than co2.

* slower & thinner ships improve fuel efficiency

* rotor sail can improve energy efficiency another 10 percent.



The rule of thumb for well streamlined objects in a liquid is that the power required goes up with the square of the speed. So twice the speed costs 4 times the power. This works for ships, aircraft and ground vehicles.

So it is possible that the future will be significantly slower because we are currently like to run well above the most efficient speed for things.


Power required to overcome a drag force is proportional to the cubed velocity (drag force is proportional to the squared power). So twice the speed equals 8 times the relative power. Nevertheless, it makes your point even stronger.


Your factor of two is removed by the fact that the power is applied for half the time.

A car travelling 70mph gets to its' destination twice as quickly as a car travelling 35mph.


That quadratic behavior is only true for high Reynolds numbers, because the drag coefficient in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drag_equation is itself dependent on the Reynolds number (and hence on the velocity). The quadratic behavior actually sets in at _lower_ Reynolds numbers for less-streamlined objects.

Now as it happens the Reynolds number for a large cargo ship is almost certainly quite large, because it involves the product of the ship's velocity and some linear measure of its size, and container ships are huge. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reynolds_number#Similarity_of_... lists ~5e9 for a large passenger ship, and the quadratic behavior sets in somewhere in the 1e3-1e7 range depending on how streamlined you are. So we're well into the quadratic regime in this specific case. But assuming that you're there in all cases is not a great idea. For example, it's not clear to me that a walking human is in the quadratic regime (though I am pretty sure a running human typically is).

Small fish are typically _not_ in the quadratic regime, I expect.


Article completely ignores the fact that most shipping companies are already "slow steaming" because it's cheaper.


People here talking about putting a price on speed and letting the market figure it out - on principle I agree with that approach but climate isn’t the only impact. Ship noise is enormous and for those who haven’t listened to recordings, it would drive a human subjected to it insane. It affects the ability of marine life to navigate, echolocate, and hunt but also subjects them to a torturous condition that we wouldn’t put up with. See https://www.seattlemag.com/article/noisy-ships-affect-orcas-... or numerous other articles on the subject.

How do we enact an effective tax to manage the pending extinction of various animals? Is the cost to transit at high speed going to be in the thousands or millions to account for that? Here in the Northwest there are only 70ish orcas left of the local variety (southern resident) and boat noise is a major cause of their dwindling health and numbers. A voluntary speed limit reduction in their main grounds was respected by 61% of boats as part of a trial (https://phys.org/news/2017-09-ships-busy-channel-endangered-...) but we need broader ocean-wide solution to noise.

I can’t see our culture of instant gratification being worth the permanent loss of flora and fauna.


If they are charged by the warming impact, it would create an incentive for warming mitigation technologies. For instance, lofting saltwater with a jet spray can support marine cloud formation, which increases albedo and lowers warming impact. Adding additives to fuel might also optimize marine cloud formation. Note there is currently no economic incentive to develop these technologies, but there would be a huge incentive if companies were charged based on the externality (warming).


I think the big issue is the quality of the fuel used, ships are more efficient then airplanes so forcing oil industry to not sell the bad quality fuel would fix this issues(they could refine it or put it back)


Charging by the warming impact is fraught, because it's hard to measure that. Instead of investing in technologies, they'd probably invest in lawsuits claiming the "warming amount" wasn't correctly calculated. Seems better to separate the two, regulation-wise.


Why do you believe it is hard to measure warming impact? Seems relatively straightforward to determine an estimate based on a CO2-ton equivalent.


Estimates are always more easily attacked than measurements. Remember we're not talking about people trying in good-faith to evaluate something, we're talking about a few getting hit with a tax based on that number. A good tax should be hard to question legally.



Carbon taxes sounds reasonable, since you can measure the carbon emitted :)


But it won't be a measure -- it will be an estimate


> Cutting the speed of ships has benefits for humans, nature and climate

Owners care about none of these things. Slowing down has to help their bottom line, or they won't do it.


Thankfully, it's not only up to owners. People (governments) can set the rules the owners need to abide.

Of course, people need to value this rule changes enough to enact it.


The rules need to create a reliable financial incentive, or they will be routinely ignored.

The easiest way to accomplish this would be to utilize existing AIS signals (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_identification_syste...). But doing so could create an incentive for captains to switch off their transponders, which would lead to safety issues.


Not always - in the PNW voluntary speed reductions (to protect marine life by reducing noise) are respected by the majority of vessels. Education and awareness of how bad and impactful the problem is may be important.


Owners are humans!


So are dictators.


You know what actually fixes this the simplest way; a carbon tax set at a high level!


In theory this should be compatible with free market ideology, let the markets innovate.

The trouble is corruption gets in the way, by that I mean carbon based industries lobbying against such taxes.


Actually, isn't it a tragedy of the commons? I don't think a carbon tax would adequately address the problem, and it would require a large regulatory apparatus to enforce it.

The oceans and atmosphere get polluted because societies don't have robust enough property rights. Markets are really good at efficiently allocating scarce resources, so we need to figure out how to define strong property rights to allow damaged parties to hold shipping companies liable. As I see it, citizens, companies, and smaller governments (cities, counties, small countries) are powerless to hold large polluters accountable, either because there's not an adequate property-rights based legal framework, or the litigation costs too much.


Strong property rights require a large regulatory apparatus for their enforcement, regardless of how those rights are allocated. It's not about the legal framework.


Is this true? As far as I know sea ships are designed for a specific speed. Especially when they have a bulbous bow. Those bows are very inefficient at lower or higher speeds.

Edit: what I mean: I can imagine a speed reduction reduces emission by 20%. But when travel times will be over 20% longer nothing is gained.


Just charge them for the warming impact and let the market decide to slow down, if that's the most efficient way.


“Shipping generates 3% of all greenhouse emissions” — I would like to see more info about that because the big ocean-going container ships are the most efficient mode per ton per (nautical) mile when it comes to fuel consumption.

And is there any chance the operators of the new China-to-Europe railway has a sponsorship role in this report?


oil tankers, bulk carriers and container ships together produce roughly half of the shipping co2 emissions. 1.5% of all greenhouse gases.

There is 19 other ship classes that produce the other half. fast roro, reefers, ferries, , etc.


Could we get carbon credits for paying these ships to go slower?


question: Is transporting cargo via airplanes more environmentally friendly than ships?

Because, one thought comes to my mind: If speed of ships go down, then airplane cargo industry would probably benefit. So, I am not sure if this move would be beneficial for environment at the end of day.


Maybe it's time to take another look at nuclear freighters.[1]

1. https://www.flexport.com/blog/nuclear-powered-cargo-ships


Maybe it's time to stop buying so much crap that we don't need.


So, encourage lower consumption? Or just produce more goods domestically to reduce the need for international trade?

Neither proposal sounds very practical. Maybe it's more realistic to focus on cleaner propulsion systems like electric.




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