Action against decarbonization at UNFCCC COP23

A group of international shipping industry leaders met during the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The invitation-only Ambition 1.5oC conference, organized by Lloyd’s Register, MAN and Maersk-chaired Danish Shipping among others, was held in Bonn on November 13th on the MS RheinFantasie moored just down river from the main conference centre. The focus was on moderated work group sessions.

Using a reviewed and accelerated ‘pathway’ developed by the Sustainable Shipping Initiative as its framework, the attendees worked together to examine the technologies, facilities and tools required to create a low-carbon action plan.

The summit concluded that the international shipping industry had the technology toolbox required for decarbonization. However, it was found that some solutions required were still in late-stage development, not yet mature, or required significant upscaling for deployment and market readiness. Also, participants concluded that investments in alternative fuels were key for shipping to decarbonize in the longer term.

The conclusions were:

·       We will build demonstrator vessels for the trialling of new technologies.

·       We will push for the urgent adoption of a science-based target for carbon emissions.

·       We will push for a much tighter, more robust Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI).

·       We will build a ‘coalition of the willing’ of those ready to collaborate across the industry in tackling the 1.5oC decarbonization challenge.

·       We will define ‘transparency’ in the industry and drive the adoption of that transparency in relation to emissions and operational data.

·       We will ensure that the decarbonization debate is broadened to involve all stakeholders, enhancing synergies and emission savings across the entire value chain.

·       We will develop more global forums based on focused working groups, including an Asia advocacy group.

Further, the meeting said that it would ‘Make Shipping Sexy’ through communication strategies in order to:

        foster a multiplier ‘Ambition’ effect to encourage other actors to engage in decarbonization projects and;

        attract new talent to a modernizing industry.

Several commitments made at the summit will sit at the core of the decarbonization Action Plan:

        To make a container ship available as a test/demonstrator vessel for low carbon and zero emissions technologies.

        urgently work towards the establishment of a CO2 levy to stimulate the uptake of clean technology and low carbon operations.

        To convene a similar summit of the same structure and impact for retailers and local ship owners on a regional basis.

        To continue the ‘technology toolbox’ discussion and build a robust performance verification process.

        To find shipping companies who will go beyond legislation – and actively support them.

        To create an innovation/engineering challenge prize to stimulate the bringing of technology and designs to market.

        To develop a system that brings forward benefits of emissions saving operational changes and adoption of low carbon technology, prior to mandated emissions levies.

        To change company operations to collaborate more intensively with equipment suppliers and to further embed more ambitious R&D into company structures.

        To make a concerted effort to raise the profile of the shipping emissions issue with consumers.

        To create a powerful platform for cross-stakeholder engagement.

        To enhance collaboration between Think-Tanks and NGOs that are active in the sector and to pool resources.

        To call for the greater collaboration of research & technology sharing with developing countries.

Following the summit, a briefing document containing a summary of the main challenges and opportunities of shipping industry decarbonization, in addition to the high ambition approaches agreed, was delivered to UNFCCC delegates,