The global economic slowdown has had a positive impact on the shipping industry with Maersk and COSCO exploring slow steaming to save fuel consumption and reduce carbon emission by 30%.

Martek Marine CEO Paul Luen said slow steaming had not been instigated before because shippers were worried that customers would not tolerate longer transit times.

According to a study by Maersk, speeds can drop from 24kts to 12kts without causing engine damage or increasing maintenance costs.

Emissions generated by shipping will double by 2020 if they remain unchecked, the European Federation for Transport and Environment said.

Other technical measures to cut emissions include improved diesel engine efficiency and waste heat recovery systems, optimised hull shape and propeller design, hull and propeller maintenance and the use of alternative fuels.