Emissions from sea transport: what role does maritime play in Australia’s emissions?


Maritime refers to activities related to sea transport, encompassing commercial shipping, freight transport, and passenger services. Navigation is the process of planning and executing the movement of vessels through water.

Significance of Maritime Emissions to Australia's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Profile

Maritime emissions contribute a smaller fraction to Australia's total greenhouse gas emissions compared to sectors like energy and agriculture. However, within the transport sector, maritime plays a significant role due to Australia's reliance on sea transport for international trade. Its contribution to national emissions is relatively modest but strategically important.

Australia's Maritime Emissions Trends Over the Past Decade

The trend in Australia’s maritime emissions has been relatively stable with slight fluctuations, reflecting the balance between economic growth, trade volume, and efficiency gains in shipping.

Factors Driving These Changes

Key factors include global trade dynamics, technological advancements in shipping efficiency, changes in shipping routes, and international regulations affecting fuel types and ship designs.

Government Projections for Maritime Emissions

Projections anticipated a gradual increase in maritime emissions, assuming growth in trade volumes. However, evolving global trade policies and advancements in shipping technology could alter these trends.

Real Emissions Track Record

To date, emissions have been broadly in line with projections, though short-term disruptions in global trade, such as those induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, have temporarily impacted these trends.

Policies and Regulations in Place in Australia

Australia adheres to international maritime emissions standards set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), including sulfur cap regulations and energy efficiency measures for new ships. Domestic policies focus on improving port infrastructure to support cleaner fuels and more efficient logistics.

Responsibility for Global Shipping Emissions

Global shipping emissions are regulated by the IMO, which sets international standards for fuel quality, ship design, and operational practices to reduce emissions. Each country is responsible for enforcing these regulations for its flagged vessels and in its ports.

How are They Calculated?

Shipping emissions are calculated based on fuel consumption data, considering factors like fuel type, ship size, and distance traveled. The IMO provides guidelines for calculating and reporting emissions.

How Does Australia Compare?

Australia, as an island nation heavily reliant on maritime transport for trade, has a vested interest in efficient and low-emission shipping. While its emissions from maritime activities are a small fraction of the global total, Australia actively participates in international efforts to reduce shipping emissions and implements IMO standards to contribute to global reductions.

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