In an open letter to IMO on 3 June, 17 maritime leaders called member states to support the proposal for an R&D fund that would help catalyze new technologies and zero-carbon fuels to decarbonize the industry.
he letter, sent on 3 June, notes that, in its path to decarbonization, the shipping industry urgently needs a range of alternative fuels at scale, with the main challenges now being to determine the right combination of new fuels and technologies and to implement viable industry-wide proposals to invest in R&D to achieve those goals, and, ultimately, the zero-carbon future.
Because ships have a commercial lifespan of 20-30 years, we need to start putting low-carbon and no-carbon ships on the water as soon as possible to reach the IMO goals. But to get there we need regulatory support from more UN IMO Member States,
..the letter reads.
While there are currently several potential solutions for reducing shipping emissions, such as green ammonia or e-fuels produced from renewable energy, the technologies to use these fuels do not yet exist in a scale or form that can be applied to large transoceanic ships and the research and development efforts currently underway are not sufficient to deliver the future fuels and technologies as quickly as we need them, the leaders stressed.
Recognizing this R&D gap, the industry has proposed to the IMO a new, industry-funded, 5-billion International Maritime Research and Development Board (IMRB), governed by the IMO, to coordinate and fund applied R&D and prototype development to catalyse the introduction of zero-carbon fuels and technologies in the maritime sector.
Ten IMO Member States are currently co-sponsors of the IMRB proposal. Their participation has already improved and strengthened the program, and we now appeal to all governments to support this innovation drive. The IMRB is expected to provide a common ground for all nations to reduce emissions, as they will have access to the IMRB’s work and the technologies that it advances.
If carbon pricing is to deliver results, there must be zero-carbon options. The IMRB will make these options available, and the sooner we do that essential research and development work, the more effective any carbon pricing tool will be. It is not either/or. It is both/and,
…the letter notes.
The announcement follows a similar call by Danish shipping giant Maersk last week, backing a $450-a-ton carbon tax on shipping fuel that would help bridge the price gap between fossil fuels and greener alternatives.
World trade and the world’s economies cannot afford a chaotic decarbonization of shipping. Nor can time be lost in effectively tackling the challenge. We therefore invite all governments to show engagement and climate leadership on the international stage, through support for the IMRB at the UN IMO,