Nations haggle over targets to reduce ship emissions Ship’s crew

By Jack Wittels (Bloomberg) –

In a grey, squat building overlooking the River Thames in London, high-level talks began Monday on how to clean up an industry that transports more than 80% of world trade – and spits out even more carbon dioxide enters the earth’s atmosphere than Germany.

The effects of shipping on the climate are seldom considered as much as with airplanes or cars. But it’s still a big polluter, responsible for nearly 3% of man-made CO2 emissions. Seaborne trade is expected to grow even larger by 2050, making the energy transition – or lack thereof – all the more important in the industry.

Led by the London-based International Maritime Organization, the global regulator, this week’s talks are part of a long and long journey slow moving Series of international gatherings about what green goals the industry should aim for and how to get there.

A major new target should be in place by the end of this week, but the exact wording is yet to be determined. A Draft document seen by Bloomberg News on Friday, the industry had agreed to try to reach net zero “around” 2050.

Because it’s not just about aligning with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels If Shipping must go to zero, it is also about the emissions that it causes in the process. Last week’s draft, while including “tentative checkpoints” for 2030 and 2040, fell short of similar proposals from the US, UK and Canada, and EU countries.

However, any kind of net-zero target by 2050 would be a step forward: the current international shipping target for reducing emissions is only 50% then, Well, short alignment with the Paris Treaty.

In the end, a goal is just a goal. It is not binding in itself. Ultimately, if industry is to actually reduce its carbon emissions, it will have to burn fewer of the petroleum-derived fuels it relies on today. There are many possibilities for the future, the most obvious being the use of low-carbon or zero-carbon alternatives such as green methanol. But it’s not just about new fuels: ships can also be made more efficient, use the wind to move through the water, or even capture their CO2 on board.

Transitioning on this scale is far from easy. Industry consumes hundreds of millions of tons of fuel every year. Producing this large quantity of substitute products – or possibly even more, given the relatively high energy density of oil – is an enormous challenge. In addition, it must be available practically anywhere in the world. And ships must be able to sail on it.

One possible way to drive this type of change is to introduce some kind of fee or “levy” on emissions. More than 20 countries supports The basic idea at a global financial fair last month summit in Paris – although China and the US, the world’s two largest economies, were significantly absent from the list of supporters. Other nations have already supported the concept, as has the commodities trading giant Trafigura Groupand the International Chamber of Shipping, a trade association representing more than 80% of the merchant fleet.

“It looks like the IMO is about to adopt some very ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets,” said Simon Bennett, ICS Deputy Secretary General. “But it is not yet certain whether the governments also have the will to take the radical measures, such as B. the to advance rapidly levy-based fund and reward systemThe measures proposed by the shipowners will be necessary to make such high ambitions plausible.”

Another possible approach is to limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in relation to energy consumption on ships. EU countries have submitted documents to the IMO proposing such a measure, arguing it would give shipping companies and fuel suppliers the predictability they need to invest in decarbonisation.

These ideas are very much on the table at IMO. And while no final decisions are expected at this week’s meeting, the organization must take action at some point – otherwise it risks becoming irrelevant while others move forward.

Large shipping companies are already taking steps. AP Moller-Maersk A/S has ordered 25 ships which can be operated with green methanol. Rival container shipper CMA CGM expects to deliver 24 biomethanol-powered and e-methanol-capable ships by 2027. Last year the Majority of ships ordered (by gross tonnage) were able to run on alternative fuels – including LNG.

The EU has also already drawn up its own rules: shipping will be included in its emissions trading system from next year and it has also developed the FuelEU maritime transport regulation, which stipulates a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in relation to energy consumption.

If other authorities follow the EU example and create their own requirements, shipping could potentially face a patchwork of different regulations around the world nightmare for such a globalized industry.

That highlights the central contradiction underlying this week’s IMO talks. As the global regulator alone, it can create far-reaching, universal rules for eliminating shipping emissions. However, with so many member states – and conflicting interests – agreeing on these rules is also the biggest challenge.

Nonetheless, the organization’s secretary-general, Kitack Lim made it clear last week that it was time to find a solution. “2023 is the year of crucial climate action for the IMO,” he said.

© 2023 Bloomberg LP

Related Articles

Back to top button