Where to after COP 26 with the decarbonization of shipping?

Kim Jefferies, Special Adviser at Gard, based in Arendal has written on the prospects for the decarbonization of shipping after COP26, held recently in Glasgow.

Jeffries noted that international shipping emitted between 2% and 3% of global GHG emissions. It transported approaching 80% of global trade by volume.

The IMO target for reduction of GHG emissions from shipping is a 50% reduction (2008=100) by 2050. “Many in the industry see this as too little, too late”, Jeffries observed. The International Chamber of Shipping has proposed a net zero target for 2050, a proposal rejected at last week’s MEPC77.

Jeffries said that zero -emission fuels and vessels needed to be deployed at scale over the next decade to achieve carbon neutrality in the shipping segment by 2050. It was this necessity that led to the “Green Shipping Corridor” initiative proposed by the Getting to Zero Coalition.

The Getting to Zero Coalition is a partnership between the Global Maritime Forum, the Friends of Ocean action, and the World Economic Forum. The work will be supported by knowledge partners such as the UCL Energy Institute, Environmental Defence Fund and the Energy Transitions Commission. Jeffries said that Gard was “one of the more than 150 companies that are current members of the Getting to Zero Coalition as are many of our members and clients”.

The ambition of the Getting to Zero Coalition is to have commercially viable zero-emissions vessels (ZEVs) operating along deep-sea trade routes by 2030. These will be supported by the necessary infrastructure for scalable net-zero carbon energy sources including production, distribution and bunkering and by 2045, to have 100% of the ships using zero emission fuels.

The proposed green corridors are specific trade routes between major port hubs where zero-emissions solutions can be demonstrated and supported.

The Next Wave Green Corridors report suggests that four critical building blocks need to be in place to establish a green corridor:

Cross-value-chain collaboration:

A green corridor requires stakeholders that are committed to decarbonisation and are willing to explore new forms of cross-value-chain collaboration to enable zero-emission shipping from both the demand and supply side.

A viable fuel pathway:

Availability of zero-emission fuels and a bunkering infrastructure to service zero-emission vessels are essential factors.

Customer demand:

Conditions need to be in place to mobilise demand for green shipping and to scale zero-emission shipping in the corridor.

Policy and regulation:

Policy incentives and regulations will be necessary to narrow the cost gap and expedite safety measures.

Jeffries said that there had been feasibility studies on two of the three suggested routes – The Australia-Japan iron ore route and the Asia-Europe container route. The third route – the Northeast Asia – US car carrier route is presented in the report as a case study.

The Clydebank Declaration

The Clydebank Declaration signed at COP 26 puts government support firmly behind Green Shipping Corridors. The declaration includes 22 signatory countries:  Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, The Marshall Islands, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, The UK and the USA.

According to the Mission Statement, the signatories aim to support the establishment of at least six green corridors by the middle of this decade. Specifically, the signatories “recognise that a rapid transition in the coming decade to clean maritime fuels, zero-emission vessels, alternative propulsion systems, and the global availability of landside infrastructure to support these, is imperative for the transition to clean shipping.”

Jeffries observed that the Next Wave Green Corridors report provided a roadmap and the signatories to the Clydebank Declaration had signalled governmental support. “This is a positive outcome of COP 26. It is time to move forward to scale up the development of zero emission fuels and vessels”, Jeffries concluded.