Impacts of climate change on the shipping industry

As INTERTANKO continues to work on air emissions and the issue relating to the revision of MARPOL Annex VI, another question was being posed by the World Maritime University in Malmo this week: what effects will climate change have on the shipping industry?


In readiness for an international conference in 2008, the WMU hosted a workshop at which INTERTANKO was invited to present its consideration of how the proposed impacts of climate change, such as increasing storm intensity and warmer sea surface temperatures, would effect the shipping industry. Questions were posed on how ship operations, maintenance and design may have to change to accommodate the perceived climate change effects.


INTERTANKO’s Environmental Manager Tim Wilkins questioned the types of changes that could be expected, stating that the industry would need clear scientific information on the types of changes which climate change could bring, adding that drawing expertise together to agree on the impacts would assist the shipping industry in understanding and preparing for these changes.


Wilkins provided examples of how climate change-related events and occurrences may already be having an effect. While increasing storm intensity and frequency have already provoked further consideration in terms of ship design and maintenance, more commercial discussions have taken place relating to the possible opening of northern sea routes due to sea temperature increases and subsequent reductions in ice in the Arctic.


Click here to view Wilkins' presentation giving further possible effects of climate change on shipping envisaged by INTERTANKO.


WMU's workshop was a successful brainstorming on the science of this subject and on the concerns of the industries dependent on the marine environment, namely fishing, ports and shipping. The ground is now set for the planned international conference in 2008 where formal papers on the subject will be presented by the scientific community alongside those of the marine industries.


Contact Tim Wilkins