Decarbonizing shipping – why now is the time to act

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Henriette Hallberg Thygesen, Executive Vice President, CEO Fleet and Strategic Brands, A.P. Møller – Mærsk A/S, Christian Ingerslev, CEO, Maersk Tankers, Lasse Kristoffersen, Chief Executive Officer, Torvald Klaveness Group, Jose Maria Larocca, Executive Director Co-Head of Oil Trading, Trafigura, Fred Krupp, President, Environmental Defense Fund, Johannah Christensen, Managing Director, Global Maritime Forum, Christoph Wolff Head of Shaping the Future of Mobility, World Economic Forum

  • The shipping industry must reach zero emissions by 2050, and to get there zero-emission ships must become the dominant and competitive choice by 2030.
  • A zero-emission fleet is only viable if zero-emission energy sources are competitive with traditional fuels, yet there is a competitiveness gap the market cannot solve by itself.
  • It is critical for shipping’s long-term success the International Maritime Organization and member states show progress by adopting regulation allowing shipping to decarbonize in line with the Paris Agreement.

A conversation with a six-year-old will lay to rest any doubts you may have about the importance of tackling climate change. Environmental awareness is the hallmark of our time. While older generations ponder over the “whats” and “hows”, younger ones wonder why so much time goes on debating rather than doing.

The call for tackling climate change is gaining momentum among citizens, investors, companies and countries around the world. US Climate Envoy, John Kerry, recently announced that the US is joining international efforts to achieve zero emissions from international shipping by 2050. And the maritime industry wants to play its part. Since 2019, the Getting to Zero Coalition has been working on making zero-emission vessels commercially viable by 2030 from the perspective of technology, business models, growth opportunities and policy.

For world to decarbonize, shipping must decarbonize

Shipping connects the world by supplying essential goods that society needs to thrive. Whilst this is done with the lowest carbon footprint of any mode of transport per ton transported, shipping is still emitting significant amounts of greenhouse gases. With a sizeable carbon footprint that only shows signs of growing, and a decades-long investment horizon, shipping cannot afford to wait. For the world to decarbonize, shipping must decarbonize.

To stay in step with the needs of society – and thus stay relevant as an industry – now is the time to act. The shipping industry must reach zero emissions by 2050, and to get there zero-emission ships must become the dominant and competitive choice by 2030, when we need to reach 5% zero-emission energy sources in international shipping.

But herein lies a conundrum. A zero-emission fleet is only commercially viable if zero-emission energy sources are competitive with traditional fuels. However, fossil fuels remain readily available, reliable and cheap – and compatible with existing ships and engines – creating a competitiveness gap that the market cannot solve on its own.

New policies are needed, regulating and incentivising shipowners, operators and fuel providers in a direction that drives investments in new fuels and technology to enable a zero-emission fleet. And we need to move the needle now.

3 priorities for the IMO

In shipping, we are fortunate to have the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as the international body regulating our activities, ensuring a level playing field, and an efficient global maritime transport system. It is, however, critical for the reputation and long-term success of our industry that the IMO and its member states demonstrate progress by adopting regulation allowing shipping to decarbonize in line with the Paris Agreement and public expectations.

We are calling on the IMO and the member states to urgently address three priorities:

1. The IMO must align international shipping with the Paris Agreement temperature goal by adopting a target of full decarbonization of international shipping by 2050, when the IMO’s Initial GHG Strategy is revised in 2021 and 2022. This would set a clear direction for the industry – a direction which has already been set for domestic emissions by many of the world’s nations including China, the EU, Japan, South Korea, the UK and the US.

2. The IMO must make progress this year at MEPC 76 and 77 on meaningful measures bridging the competitiveness gap between carbon-based fuels and zero-carbon energy sources. This includes market-based measures setting an adequate price on GHG emissions based on a full life cycle analysis of energy sources. Progress this year is needed to instil confidence across the maritime value chain that such measures will enter into force in 2025 and make the transition to zero-emission shipping investable at scale.

The required price on GHG emissions from international shipping needed to reach 5% zero-emission fuels by 2030 can be significantly reduced if the generated revenue from a market-based measure is used to support the deployment at scale of zero-emission vessels and fuels. This would also help de-risk first movers and make investments in zero-emission vessels and fuel production possible.

3. The IMO must ensure a globally effective and equitable transition to zero-emission shipping. This could be achieved if part of the funds raised through a market-based measure was used to support climate vulnerable countries as well as to support the development and deployment of economically viable zero emission fuels and technologies in developing countries, particularly in Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries.

Recent reports from the World Bank show that meeting the future demand for zero-emission shipping fuels will create new growth and job opportunities all around the globe not least in developing countries and emerging economies. This demonstrates that the transition to zero-emission shipping can go hand in hand with sustainable economic growth.

Decarbonizing shipping is possible, but it will require urgent and sustained action by the private sector as well as by governments. Let us move forward together to make shipping a zero-emission industry, so we can be proud of the answer we give a six-year-old, when they ask: “What are you doing to address climate change?”

The signatories to this op-ed are all active in the Getting to Zero Coalition.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

What changes in the EU as from today

America writes-off Iran, blocks Europe’s Tehran talks

This is how to speed up ocean-climate ambition towards COP26

Statement by Cecilia Malmström, Member of the EC in charge of Trade, on the successful conclusion of the final discussions on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) – Brussels, 08 Dec 2017. (Copyright: European Union; Source: EC - Audiovisual Service; Photo: Georges Boulougouris)

The EU and Japan seal free trade pact that will cover 30% of global GDP

The moment of truth for global energy transition is here

UN chief reaffirms commitment to untying ‘Gordian knot’ of Middle East conflict and instability

Great Reset: Why LGBT+ inclusion is the secret to cities’ post-pandemic success

Thursday’s Daily Brief: STIs worldwide, food safety and food prices, updates on Iraq and East Africa

This is how AI can help you make sense of the world

3 reasons why most Africans aren’t on the internet – and how to connect them

Are e-cigarettes as safe as they claim to be?

New citizenship law in India ‘fundamentally discriminatory’: UN human rights office

What is the Internet of Things?

Hungary has made progress on greening its economy and now needs to raise its ambitions

Conflict of interest and misuse of EU funds: The case of Czech PM Babiš

COVID-19 could widen the digital gap. Here’s what’s needed now.

Data is the fuel of mobility. Don’t spill it for nothing

Why the UK government must do more to boost green revolution

Coronavirus emergency: here’s what we know so far

Brexit: With May gone the Tory divide is to sink the UK despite Brits wanting to ‘Remain’

Turkey: MEPs cut support by €70m due to no improvement in respect for EU values

Humanitarian aid: EU mobilises over €18 million for the Central African Republic in 2019

Cocaine and opium production worldwide hit ‘absolute record highs’ – major threat to public health says UN study

Million across Yemen ‘just a step away from famine’, with food available but inaccessible

38th ACP-EU Assembly: dialogue on cooperation challenges in Kigali

A Sting Exclusive: “Leading by example! EU must push for UN deal to avoid dangerous climate change”, European Parliament Vice-President Ulrike Lunacek cries out from Brussels

The ECB still protects the banks at the expense of the EU taxpayers

Governments, businesses ‘walk the talk’ for investment in sustainable development: UN forum

28 million elective surgeries may be cancelled worldwide: how non-COVID-19 medical care is suffering

Take action on air pollution to save lives, and the planet, urges UN chief

Renewed pressures on Berlin to adopt growth policies

Harnessing the power of nature in the fight against climate change

Aid spending fell in 2018, for the second year in a row

These are the benefits of learning a second language

Can collective action cure what’s ailing our food systems?

How supporting climate action on a local level can transform the world

EU launches €100 million humanitarian initiative to support COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in Africa

Improving Italy’s capital market will boost growth opportunities for Italian companies and savers

Is poverty and exclusion the necessary price for EU’s recovery?

The Indian miracle state pointing the way to global sustainability

EU job-search aid worth €9.9 million for 1,858 former Air France workers

How drones can manage the food supply chain and tell you if what you eat is sustainable

Nagorno-Karabakh: EU allocates additional €3 million in humanitarian aid for conflict-affected civilians

Northern Bahamas ravaged by ‘disaster of epic proportions’ as UN releases $1 million in emergency funds

Sustainable investment continues to gain momentum

EU-Japan relations: Foreign Affairs MEPs back Strategic Partnership Agreement

Asylum: more solidarity among EU member states and funds for frontline countries

Security Council hails ‘historic and significant’ joint peace declaration by Ethiopia and Eritrea

Parliament gives green light to EU-Singapore trade and investment protection deals

Lithuania finds the ways to maintain its energy security

The new EU “fiscal compact” an intimidation for all people

Let Nagasaki remain ‘the last city’ to suffer nuclear devastation says museum director, as UN chief arrives

New EU rules cut red tape for citizens living or working in another Member State as of tomorrow

“Our house is on fire.” 16 year-old Greta Thunberg wants action

This man ran across the USA to raise awareness of plastic pollution

This warehouse is one of the world’s greenest industrial buildings

FROM THE FIELD: Watering the parched farmland of São Tomé and Príncipe

Cédric in India

Why Eurozone can afford spending for growth

Early signs of growth in Eurozone?

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s