Shipping emissions could be halved by 2030 without damaging trade, new research has found.

Emissions from maritime transportation amount to about 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and there are few alternatives to the cheap, heavy and dirty diesel oil used by ships.

The shipping industry has been slow to take up emissions-cutting technologies, and an increasing number of countries want to see a tax on shipping to encourage shipowners to invest in emissions reduction and fund the rescue of countries stricken by climate disaster.

A shipping levy was discussed by nearly 40 world leaders and the heads of global financial institutions in mid-June in Paris. World Bank estimates show that a carbon tax on shipping could raise as much as $50bn to $60bn a year.

Japan, the world’s 2nd largest ship-owning nation, has called for a carbon tax of $56 a tonne of carbon from 2025.

Spokesperson for the USA after the conference claimed; “We’re very focused on the need to raise substantial resources to address climate change and poverty reduction and other global challenges. So, we’re very open to innovative approaches. I think it is a very constructive suggestion and would agree with President Macron’s (French President) description of the logic of why it would be appropriate, and it’s something that the US will look at.”

As countries prepare for the IMO meetings, which will take place in London from Monday 26 June to 7 July, research published by the consultancy CE Delft found that CO2 from shipping could be cut by between a third and a half this decade by using already available techniques and embarking on innovative technology such as hydrogen.

There are ways of using oil-powered ships more efficiently, including better maintenance of engines, cutting speeds slightly or optimising speeds to the sea conditions. Ships can be fitted with modern forms of sails or “wind-assist” technologies that take some of the strain from engines when the wind is strong.

If these were used, and another 5-10% of shipping were to begin to use experimental fuels such as hydrogen, biofuels or forms of electrification with solar batteries, then emissions from fuel use could be cut by between 36% and 47% within the next decade, compared with 2008 levels.