Maersk aims for 2050 carbon neutral future

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche
ShipInsight

05 December 2018


Danish shipping giant Maersk has announced its vision of a carbon neutral operation by 2050 but warns that neither the company or the wider shipping industry can achieve this by itself.

In a statement released today, Maersk said that to achieve its goal, carbon neutral vessels must be commercially viable by 2030, and an acceleration in new innovations and adaption of new technology is required. The statement said climate is one of the most important issues in the world, and carrying around 80% of global trade, the shipping industry is vital to finding solutions. By now, Maersk´s relative CO2 emissions have been reduced by 46% (baseline 2007), approximately 9% more than the industry average.

As world trade and thereby shipping volumes will continue to grow, efficiency improvements on the current fossil-based technology can only keep shipping emissions at current levels but not reduce them significantly or eliminate them. “The only possible way to achieve the so-much-needed decarbonisation in our industry is by fully transforming to new carbon neutral fuels and supply chains,” said Søren Toft, Chief Operating Officer at A.P. Moller - Maersk.

Maersk said it is putting its efforts towards solving problems specific to maritime transport, as it calls for different solutions than automotive, rail and aviation. The yet to come electric truck is expected to be able to carry a maximum of two TEU and is projected to run 800km per charging. In comparison, a container vessel carrying thousands of TEU sailing from Panama to Rotterdam makes around 8,800 km. With short battery durability and no charging points along the route, innovative developments are imperative.

Given the 20-25-year life time of a vessel, it is now time to join forces and start developing the new type of vessels that will be crossing the seas in 2050. Research and Development is key to take the industry away from today’s fossil-based technology and by setting this ambitious target, Maersk hopes to generate a pull towards researchers, technology developers, investors, cargo owners and legislators that will activate strong industry involvement, co-development, and sponsorship of sustainable solutions that we are yet to see in the maritime industry.

“The next 5-10 years are going to be crucial. We will invest significant resources for innovation and fleet technology to improve the technical and financial viability of decarbonised solutions. Over the last four years, we have invested around USD 1bn and engaged 50+ engineers each year in developing and deploying energy efficient solutions. Going forward we cannot do this alone” added Toft.