The maritime industry is continuing its efforts to address the energy transition and commit to a net zero future before the deadlines, even as the most recent IPCC Climate Change report underlines the need for urgent climate policies toward a more sustainable future.
The IMO’s Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (ISWG-GHG 14) met 20-24 March 2023 with the aim to progress work on revision of IMO climate strategy. Although the outcome left up a wide range of possibilities for crucial components of the modification of the GHG reduction strategy, many of the specifics are still uncertain.
Whilst ISWG-GHG 14 was another point in the process of trying to achieve convergence, it was not a decision point on either strategy or policy measures, UMAS highlighted. The meeting, however, provided some useful insights into how the debates might conclude at MEPC 80, although the details will remain in flux the final adoption. MEPC 80 will be a critical moment for the IMO because it coincides both with the adoption of a Revised GHG Reduction Strategy as well as being the point for a set of policy measures key for enabling that strategy.
When ISWG-GHG 14 came to an end, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) expressed its disappointment with the levels of ambition discussed at the meeting. ‘We remain optimistic that a deal can still be stuck at the crucial MEPC meeting in July. More positively, governments are increasingly understanding the value of the ICS Fund and Reward proposal to accelerate the production and uptake of low and zero-carbon fuels.’’ said Guy Platten, the Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping
EU agreed to the world’s first green shipping fuels law
On 22nd of March, EU agreed to the world’s first green shipping fuels law in favor of at least 2% mandate for green shipping fuels by 2025, compared to the latest agreement of a mandate by 2030. Negotiators agreed new targets for shipowners to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of the energy they use onboard by 2% from 2025 and 6% as of 2030. Ships will be required to increasingly switch to sustainable fuels and at least 2% of the bloc’s shipping fuels will need to come from e-fuels derived from renewable electricity by 2034 at the latest.
As stated by ESPO, the agreement provides the shipping sector with a framework to accelerate their green transition through reduced emissions during navigation and at berth. The ambitious requirements for ships to reduce emissions starting in 2025 will help drive the uptake of alternative fuels in shipping, as well as help ensure the use of shore side electricity (SSE).
Green Corridors are taking off
As international cooperation is needed, the maritime industry is setting up ‘green corridors’ with coalitions of other ports, container carriers, forwarders, fuel suppliers and other stakeholders in order to make supply chains sustainable.
- In late February, Global Spatial Technology Solutions (GSTS) said it will collaborate with the Montreal Port Authority (MPA) in providing a Green Shipping Corridor capability using their Artificial Intelligence platform.
- In March 2023, the United States of America, the Republic of Fiji, the Republic of Panama and the Pacific Blue Shipping Partnership announced their intent to engage in technical cooperation to help facilitate the establishment of green shipping corridors.
- On March 15th, California and Japan signed a letter of intent with the aim to establish green shipping corridors.
- As Global Maritime Forum informed, a new consortium will explore the options for developing a maritime green corridor for the zero-emission shipping of iron ore between South Africa and Europe.
- On March 23rd, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by DFDS ferry operator, the Port of Dover, the Port of Boulogne Calais and the Port of Dunkerque to work together to decarbonize maritime trade in the Dover Strait.
The conflict over alternate fuel is ongoing
As reported, there is currently a competition between Korean and Chinese shipbuilders about which is taking more shipbuilding orders, as methanol-powered ships are rapidly emerging as next-generation eco-friendly ships. In March 2023, ONE announced that it has ordered ten new container vessels to be ready for methanol and ammonia, outfitted with a bow cover and other energy-saving technologies.
During the 2023 GREEN4SEA Athens Forum, experts had the opportunity to share their perspectives on the different alternative options that exist. When it comes to ammonia, ’’technological maturity at the present is at the baby-teething phase since there are no engines commercially available to burn ammonia’’, noted Dr. John Kokarakis, Technical Director South East Europe, Black Sea & Adriatic Zone at Bureau Veritas. Although ammonia is promulgated as one of the fuels in the future multi-fuel society, a major stumbling block is the IGC Code of IMO which prevents the carriage and utilization of toxic fuels, he said. It appears that ammonia will be more utilized as a carrier of hydrogen in a future hydrogen ecosystem.
According to Grieg Star, green ammonia is seen as one of many possible fuels for shipping in the future. ‘’Currently, it seems more viable for multifuel-ready new buildings than for retrofitting current ships. We need changes on a political and regulatory level to make the change for the existing world fleet.’’, said Managing Director of Grieg Star, Atle Sommer. Ammonia, hydrogen, ethane and Dimethyl Ether (DME) are among the “alternative” marine fuels which may need future regulatory work, IMO said in March following a recent assessment which is the result of a regulatory mapping exercise conducted by Low Carbon GIA, with inputs and contributions from ICS.
The shipping industry is increasingly turning to a basket of technologies that can harvest an abundant, zero-emissions energy source that is available globally today, i.e. the wind. ‘’Wind propulsion has been extensively researched, tested, discussed, piloted and by some, dismissed throughout the last decade’’, noted Mr. Gavin Allwright, Secretary General, International Windship Association (IWSA) during the GREEN4SEA event. ‘’2023 is a pivotal year for shipping, as we head into IMO discussions at MEPC80, and we have an opportunity to tackle multiple challenges at once, setting ambitious decarbonisation targets that also address the need for a just transition and build the foundations for a resilient, sustainable maritime sector.’’ added Mr. Andrew Stephens, Executive Director, Sustainable Shipping Initiative.
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