The World Shipping Council (WSC), a Washington, D.C.-based trade group that represents international liner shipping, is releasing for the first time concrete regulatory and economic pathways that it believes the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) should adopt for the shipping industry to achieve carbon neutrality.
The World Shipping Council has outlined six regulatory and economic mechanisms that it believes are crucial for IMO member states to achieve a successful maritime energy transition.
The maritime shipping industry is estimated to be responsible for about 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions. IMO approved an initial strategy in 2018 to cut total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels, although details are still in development, and a comprehensive strategy is not expected until 2023.
WSC President John Butler says the liner shipping sector is aware of its “shared responsibility” for reducing GHG emissions. “We don't underestimate the problem. We are committed to decarbonizing shipping and are working on several concepts and projects. However, to make these investments and take the necessary risks, we require a legislative framework that addresses the key strategic challenges,” he adds.
WSC's first pathway proposed is a worldwide carbon price combined with trustworthy and broad-based “buy down” programs that effectively level the playing field between newer low and zero GHG ships and the tens of thousands of ships that will still be burning conventional fuels. This will play a significant role in enabling companies to put zero-emission ships on the ocean.
Second, a transparent well-to-wake life cycle study of fuels is required, as well as regulatory tools to incentivize early adopters to use alternative fuels that promise considerable GHG reductions.
WSC proposed, in third place, integrated global production and supply of zero GHG fuels through partnerships between IMO member states and energy providers, as well as regulatory provisions that allow for flexibility in the early stages of the energy transition.
The fourth initiative is the Green Corridors Program, which aims to hasten an equitable fuel and technology transition by introducing zero-emission ships and fuels along trade lanes. This would accelerate the establishment of best practices and encourage IMO member states and other interested parties to concentrate on government-to-government initiatives and coordinated public-private investments to construct the essential production and supply infrastructure.
WSC, in fifth position, advocates for new construction norms to facilitate the energy transition, such as requiring ships built after a specific date to be able to operate on zero GHG fuels or prohibiting the construction of vessels that can only operate on fossil fuels after a certain date.
Finally, applied R&D for shipboard and shoreside systems that allow the safe use of zero GHG fuels is required to put zero emission ships on the water. To minimize stranded assets and mishaps, a major increase in R&D effort and expenditure is required to develop the technology required to use the most promising fuels onboard transoceanic ships.
WSC's submission to the IMO goes into much detail about the paths. “Every one of these aspects should be included in an extended IMO GHG Strategy,” WSC said in a statement. “WSC looks forward to working with member states and organizations to create and incorporate these features into explicit legislation and programs.”