ABS informs that the regulatory changes set for 2020, as well as those expected for 2030 and 2050, will be “more disruptive than any past environmental regulations.”

In fact, the shipping industry “will need a better understanding of existing technologies and strategies while new technology, including fuels, will need to be developed,”  in order to achieve cleaner low-carbon emissions.

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The new ABS Low Carbon Shipping Outlook, a tool which helps shipowners understand the task ahead and assess their options for a transition to low carbon operations, proposes that 2030 targets can be met with available technology, through the means of slower speeds, improvements in operational efficiency, limited use of low-carbon fuels, and energy efficient designs.

Further to this, it is added that fuels are in focus in order to achieve 2050 emissions targets, as the existing fuel technology does not meet the 2050 standards, noting that there will be challenges involved with scaling alternative fuels.

In fact, it has taken ten years for LNG bunkering infrastructure to develop and supply less than 1% of the global fleet. It can be estimated that other alternative fuels will have to deal with similar infrastructure development and regulatory and supply chain challenges.

Shipowners and operators may have already started to explore lower carbon fuel options and more fuel-efficient vessels, yet the existing technology alone will not be able to meet the efficiency, air pollution and carbon emission requirements in the long term.

ABS highlights that

In the short term, options to meet IMO 2030 emissions goals may include speed reduction and speed optimization; improvements in design efficiency; and fuels with lower CO2 emissions, such as LNG and LPG.

Whatsoever, advancements to the energy efficiency of ship designs will not be enough for 2050 GHG reduction targets without alternative, low carbon fuels.

Notably, at this time there aren’t any genuinely “zero-carbon” fuels at a larger scale; “carbon-neutral” biofuels are only tested in limited quantities; and all alternative fuels known have certain limitations, leading to an ambiguous fuel choice for the global fleet.

ABS notes that

For the immediate future the fuel solution for a vast part of international shipping remains a choice between a variety of fuel oils or LNG.

Reducing GHG emissions for shipping, will not only call for supporting regulation, that provides a compliance process that is technically proven, safe and commercially sustainable, encouraging early adopters of new technologies, but will also potentially have an impact on ship designs, fuel selections and vessel operations. Moreover, it may also affect the choice of cargos that will be transported and the trade routes and ship sizes selected.

ABS advises that

Change on that scale will not come quickly, great efforts will be required to ensure that shipping’s positive contributions to global trade and the economy remain visible for all to see.

ABS launched its ABS Low Carbon Shipping Outlook in June, defining ship technologies, operational efficiencies and alternative fuels and energy sources that are needed to achieve the 2030 and 2050 goals.

Moreover, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) launched its “Navigating the way to a renewable future: Solutions to decarbonize shipping” report during Global Maritime Forum’s Annual Summit in Singapore, highlighting the importance of reducing shipping emissions and following the path towards a carbon-zero industry, in line with IMO’s sustainability targets.

The report in particular underlines the urgency on reducing CO2 emissions, exploring the impact shipping has on the environment, the sector’s structure and what needs to be done to achieve a greener industry.

Earlier in September, the UK government announced a further £1 million for technology and innovation projects through MarRI-UK, a consortium of leading maritime organisations, as part of its efforts to become a global hub for low-carbon maritime technology.

The announcement was made by Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani on 10 September and comes in continuation of an earlier £1 million UK investment to support early stage clean maritime projects. This brings a total of £2.3 million grant by UK to support the development of trailblazing maritime technology.