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France to put forward speed limit plan to International Maritime Organisation

Cruise ships may face the prospect of speed limits under a proposal being put forward to cut greenhouse emissions.

According to a report in The Times, France is intending to put forward a plan to the International Maritime Organisation as a way of helping the industry meet its international target of halving greenhouse emissions by 2050.

The proposal says “speed reduction leads to a significant emissions reduction and it can be implemented quickly: it is the only measure that requires little or no technical adaptation of the ships”.

It would mean that cargo vessels would reduce their average speed to about 16 knots (18kmh). Previously they travelled at up to 24 knots. However, the biggest impact could be on cruise ships, which have average speeds of about 15 knots and a top speed of 22 knots.

The proposal does also suggest “passenger ships” could be exempt if they “were unable to reduce their speed for technical reasons”.

Carnival Corporation, which owns Cunard and P&O Cruises, said it was following the debate closely, while Richard Ballantyne, chief executive of the British Ports Association, told The Times that it opposed a speed limit.

He said: “There is already a cost incentive attached to slow steaming for ship owners and the decision of what speed is necessary for sailing is one that has many factors.”

The Department for Transport said: “We support exploring a range of options to make the industry greener. However, detailed technical consideration from the IMO would be required before any final decisions can be made.”

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