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XII.e International shipping Costs

The 2050 Calculator includes all emissions which count towards the UK’s 2050 target. The only exception is international aviation and shipping: the Government has yet to decide whether this will contribute towards the UK’s 2050 target; however for illustrative purposes this sector has been included in the Calculator in the meantime.

Costs summary

Technology costs

Click here for International Shipping cost data

Costs Methodology

Methodology used

International shipping emissions are not currently included in the UK’s 2050 emissions target. However, they are included in the 2050 Calculator to ensure complete coverage of all sectors.

For international shipping, only estimates of the incremental costs of Levels 2, 3 and 4 relative to Level 1 are included in the 2050 Calculator.

The estimates included in the 2050 Calculator are based on the results of a study commissioned by the Department for Transport [1], which estimated the potential for different technical and operational measures to reduce the UK’s CO2 emissions from shipping, and the cost-effectiveness of these measures per tonne of CO2 reduced (£/tCO2). The Calculator uses the central estimates from the study. However, these estimates have been adjusted to exclude the effect of biofuels to avoid double counting in the 2050 Calculator.

On this basis, the maximum technically feasible emissions reduction potential for UK international shipping (excluding biofuels) was estimated at approximately 6.8 million tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2) in 2020 and 25.5 MtCO2 in 2050, and the average cost per tonne of CO2 reduced (£/tCO2) has been estimated at approximately -£88/tCO2 in 2020 and -£83/tCO2 in 2050.

To estimate the incremental costs of Levels 2, 3 and 4 relative to Level 1, the average cost per tonne of CO2 reduced that has been estimated for the maximum technically feasible emissions reduction potential (excluding biofuels) was used. As estimates are only available for 2020 and 2050, it was assumed that the estimate for 2020 applies in all years prior to 2020, and a constant annual growth rate between the estimates for 2020 and 2050 was assumed to produce estimates for other years. We have used these estimates as our "default" costs in the 2050 Calculator. We will explore using a range to reflect the uncertainty surrounding these estimates in future revisions to the 2050 Calculator.

It should be noted that these estimates are subject to a range of uncertainties, and are sensitive to the assumptions, data sources and underpinning estimates and other aspects of the methodology As we do not have total cost estimates, the costs for Level 1 are zero. Therefore, when looking at the total costs of pathways in the Web Tool, users should be aware that this will be an underestimate because it will not reflect the full international shipping costs.

Questions to Stakeholders

1) Do you have any comments on the estimates that are included in the 2050 Calculator?

2) Are you able to provide any new estimates?


Lead and sign-off 2050 Costs team lead - Sophie Hartfield

  1. AMEC Environment & Infrastructure UK Limited (2011) Costs and Benefits of Abatement Options for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships Arriving at and Departing from Ports in the UK