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Friday, 22 November 2019 13:09

Decarbonization and the shipping sector: the need for industry evidence

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Decarbonization and the shipping sector

The focus on decarbonization in the shipping sector has increased significantly over the past couple of years. This has been driven by the IMO’s strategy to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, while, at the same time, pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely. This has led to a number of recent initiatives, including the Getting to Zero Coalition led by the Global Maritime Forum. This was announced at September’s UN Climate Summit, and studies that set out the economic, legislative and technical requirements and implications of various options; among the most relevant studies are: World Bank, “Understanding the Economic Impacts of Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Policies on Shipping”; International Transport Forum, “Decarbonising Maritime Transport”; Energy Transitions Commission, “Reaching Zero Carbon Emissions from Shipping – Consultation Paper”; UMAS, “LNG as a Marine Fuel in the EU”.

LNG – a low carbon fuel?

“LNG as a Marine Fuel in the EU” is of particular relevance because, in the light of the increasing pressure to act, significant interest and subsequent investment have been generated in LNG (liquified natural gas) as a low carbon fuel.  However, the implications of the studies are that LNG, which is itself a fossil fuel in the most commonly available form, is likely to be at best a transition fuel to other lower or potentially zero-carbon fuels, with significant variability in the life-cycle GHG emission reductions that can be achieved through the use of LNG depending on feedstock and technology deployed.

The need for industry evidence

In conclusion there is a need for an unequivocal evidence base to be generated and agreed across the industry, within a relatively short timescale, so that coordinated investment in fuel supply, infrastructure and supportive policy can be implemented in time to meet the agreed 2050 goals.

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