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    Fund the energy transition now, shipping organisations say


BIMCO joined a chorus of voices saying a zero-emission future ‘does not come free.’

by: Daniel Graeber

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Fund the energy transition now, shipping organisations say

Representatives of the international shipping industry on June 18 said they were frustrated with the lack of momentum on a $5mn research fund to facilitate the rollout of cleaner fuels and zero-emission technologies.

The UN’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO) called on shippers to utilise low-sulphur and cleaner-burning fuels in an effort to arrest the impact of global climate change. As such, shippers have moved to options like liquefied natural gas and other clean-burning alternatives to meet their obligations.

The Baltic and International Maritime Council was joined by Intertanko, the World Shipping Council and five other groups in saying the IMO should act now and make a decisive action on the research and development fund programme, to be led by a new International Maritime Research and Development Board.

“Governments rightly call for innovation and for decarbonisation to happen now,” the industry groups said. “This is now, and we need IMO member states to move forward and allow us to accelerate the R&D needed without further delay.”

At meetings this week, the shipping organisations said, international support emerged for the funding, but there was no substantive action taken apart from that.

Apart from IMO 2020, which mandates sulphur restrictions, the UN-backed body set a target of cutting emissions from the shipping industry by 50% by 2050. Taking it further, the US and the European Union (EU) moved the goal posts closer by setting the bar at net-zero by 2050. To do that, the shipping groups said, the industry needs zero-emission ships that can make trans-oceanic voyages, but those might not be available until 2030 and research and development is lacking.

“We urgently need to expand and accelerate R&D around zero-carbon technologies and fuels,” they said. “But innovation does not come for free.”

There may be progress, however. Finnish company Wartsila, which caters to the marine and energy markets, said June 15 it supports European measures to demonstrate zero-emission solutions for all vessel types and services before 2030.

“Wartsila has, through its research of carbon-neutral fuels and development of related engine technology, taken a leading role in efforts to decarbonise shipping,” it said. “The fuels researched include bio- and synthetic LNG, ammonia, methanol, hydrogen and biofuels.”

Wartsila played a role in the preparation phase of a partnership agreement between the European Commission and the Waterborne Technology Platform, which addresses energy efficiency and shipping safety, among other things.