Green coalition leads push towards carbon free future for shipping

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 24 September 2019


A bold step towards decarbonising shipping was made at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York yesterday when members of the Getting to Zero Coalition announced that they will lead the push for international shipping’s decarbonisation.

The ambition of the Getting to Zero Coalition is an alliance representing senior leaders within the maritime, energy, infrastructure and finance sectors, supported by decision-makers from government and IGO’s. Its aims are closely aligned with the IMO’s Initial GHG Strategy. The strategy prescribes that international shipping must reduce its total annual greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% of 2008 levels by 2050, whilst pursuing efforts towards phasing them out as soon as possible in this century. This will ultimately align greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping with the Paris Agreement. The Coalition is committed to making this ambitious target a reality by getting commercially viable deep sea zero emission vessels powered by zero emission fuels into operation by 2030.

The Getting to Zero Coalition is a partnership between the Global Maritime Forum (GMF), the Friends of Ocean Action, and the World Economic Forum. The Coalition is supported by more than 70 public and private organisations including several shipowners and equipment suppliers.

Many of the coalition’s partners issued their own statements yesterday announcing their support for the aims including MAN Energy Solutions, ABS and LR.

Bjarne Foldager – Senior Vice President, Head of Two-Stroke Business at MAN Energy Solutions – said, “Joining the Getting to Zero Coalition makes perfect sense for us as system technologies that help our customers to reduce emissions and lead the way to a carbon-neutral future already form a significant part of our business strategy. We understand the need to work with a wide group of industry partners to achieve this strategy and the Getting to Zero Coalition is therefore a perfect match. In shipping, MAN Energy Solutions has publicly spoken out in favour of a ‘maritime energy transition’ for some time now, which draws on the increased use of low-emission fuels. For us, the path to decarbonising the maritime economy starts with fuel decarbonisation, which will be a natural step toward the development of Zero Emission Vessels.”

“The greatest challenge of our generation – and the next – will be the decarbonization of the shipping industry,” said Christopher J. Wiernicki, ABS Chairman, President and CEO. “ABS is committed to ensuring the transition to a low-carbon and clean-emissions future is achieved through solutions that meet the highest safety standards, are commercially viable, and technically feasible. That is why ABS is proud to be amongst the first to join the Getting to Zero Coalition.”

Alastair Marsh, CEO, Lloyd’s Register, said, “The IMO’s 2050 GHG ambitions require substantial and collaborative input from all maritime stakeholders and beyond. Getting to zero is about more than the delivery of zero-emissions vessels into the world fleet by 2030. As an industry we need to ensure that the infrastructure and supply chain is in place to support this change. Lloyd’s Register is proud to be part of the coalition to collaborate on opportunities and support the sector’s future achievements.”

Quoted in the GMF’s statement Søren Skou, CEO of A.P. Møller Mærsk, said “Energy efficiency has been an important tool which has helped us reduce CO2 emissions per container with 41% over the last decade and position ourselves as a leader 10% ahead of the industry average. However, efficiency measures can only keep shipping emissions stable, not eliminate them. To take the next big step change towards decarbonisation of shipping, a shift in propulsion technologies or a shift to clean fuels is required which implies close collaboration from all parties. The coalition launched today is a crucial vehicle to make this collaboration happen”.

Also quoted in the GMF statement was Ben van Beurden, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell who said “Decarbonizing maritime shipping is a huge task with no simple answer, but it has to be done. We intend to be part of the long-term, zero-carbon, solution by seeking out the most feasible technologies that can work at a global scale. Starting now is essential because ships built today will stay on the water for decades.”

The Getting to Zero Coalition may prove to be a catalyst for the broader energy transition if international shipping becomes a reliable source of demand for zero emission fuels. This can increase confidence among suppliers and translate into an increased supply of feasible zero emission fuels and thus be an important point of leverage for change across other hard-to-abate sectors.

The demand for zero emission fuels derived from renewable resources has the potential to drive substantial investment in clean energy projects in developing countries with a large untapped renewable energy potential.

“The Global Infrastructure Facility stands ready to support governments in emerging markets and developing economies, along with our partner multilateral development banks, with funding and technical expertise to plan, design, and mobilize private investment in the infrastructure solutions necessary to support decarbonisation of shipping and contribute to the goals of the Getting to Zero Coalition,” says Jason Lu, Head of the Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF).

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