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Latest Science

A Comeback of Wind Power in Shipping: An Economic and Operational Review on the Wind-Assisted Ship Propulsion Technology Todd ChouVasileios KosmasMichele Acciaro, and, Katharina Renken  relook at the data to confirm and remind us what we know about Wind-assisted ship propulsion (WASP) technology as a sustainable model to decarbonisation in shipping. A study that the public and private sector will need to know to move forward.   Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1880;


Wind-assisted ship propulsion (WASP) technology seems to be a promising solution toward accelerating the shipping industry’s decarbonization efforts as it uses wind to replace part of the propulsive power generated from fossil fuels. This article discusses the status quo of the WASP technological growth within the maritime transport sector by means of a secondary data review analysis, presents the potential fuel-saving implications, and identifies key factors that shape the operational efficiency of the technology. The analysis reveals three key considerations. Firstly, despite the existing limited number of WASP installations, there is a promising trend of diffusion of the technology within the industry. Secondly, companies can achieve fuel savings, which vary depending on the technology installed. Thirdly, these bunker savings are influenced by environmental, on-board, and commercial factors, which presents both opportunities and challenges to decision makers.


Climate strategy in the balance who decides?.  Michael Prehn Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School, Kilevej 14A, DK-2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark

Journal of Marine Policy 131 (2021) 104621

Abstract: Climate change and impact mitigation is central to the shipping industry. Targets and standards that aim to reduce emissions and mitigate impact will apply either to all ships or to certain ship types or ship activities. The impact of this regulatory agenda on maritime activities is heavily dependent on international conventions and decisions taken at the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Some scholars have pointed to the undue influence of firms on the IMO via ‘corporate capture’. Mainstream scholarship assumes that decisive influence comes from powerful states. This article deploys a polycentric approach to argue that governance outcomes are often a function of the particularities of the negotiating process as opposed to the characteristics and resources of the negotiating parties.

Climate governance, policy entrepreneurs and small states: explaining policy change at the International Maritime Organisation Jack Corbetta, Mélodie Ruwetb, Yi-Chong Xub and Patrick Weller School of Economic, Political and Social Sciences University of Southampton, UK; School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia


The Marshall Islands (RMI) is one of the world’s smallest sovereign states, which should mean they are peripheral to global climate negotiations. Yet, they have recently played a crucial role in negotiating the Paris Agreement and emissions reductions at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The success at Paris is well documented. Here we explain how they also acted as successful policy entrepreneurs at the IMO. Specifically, we find that RMI’s success can be explained by three factors: vision of the entrepreneur; development of capacity within RMI and the region, and commitment of key actors to create and seize opportunities in available forums, to realise that vision; and strategies to mobilise broader international support. These findings have implications for the literatures on policy entrepreneurship in climate governance and studies that highlight the capacity of small states to influence international affairs. 

Sabin White Paper

When IMO negotiations break down, where do we turn to for guidance?  In adopting the Initial Strategy on GHG emissions reduction in 2018, all IMO member states committed themselves to be guided in their decision-making by an agreed set of Guiding Principles.  This new Columbia Law School White Paper examines these Principles as they stand at international law.

Achieving the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting warming to “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels requires urgent and serious steps to reduce greenhouse gas. Shipping currently makes up nearly 3% of anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHG) released worldwide, and those emissions are on track to increase. But the transnational nature of the industry makes it difficult for any state to address the issue alone, and little has been done at the international level to either force or incentivize shipping companies to decarbonize.

In a new white paper, published online, the Sabin Center examines nine principles of international law that establish and frame the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) authority to adopt a market-based mechanism to reduce shipping emissions. The polluter pays principle provides strong support to adopt such a measure, which could require whoever causes emissions to cover the costs those emissions impose on others. And other principles of international law will work to ensure that any measure is sensitive the different contributions parties have made to climate change, views any uncertainties through the lens of the precautionary principle, and respects fundamental rights of all.

Prior Sabin Center white papers have explored The Legal Bases For IMO Climate Measures and the Authority of Pacific Island States to Regulate Greenhouse Gases from the International Shipping Sector. For more information about the Sabin Center’s publications visit our searchable library here.