With COP27 on the horizon, shipping industry feeling increased pressure to reduce emissions


A check engine 4 storeys excessive, with 4 big pistons, could maintain the potential to rework the shipping industry and the world provide chains that rely on it.

“We are taking an inside combustion engine and we’re altering it,” mentioned Brian Østergaard Sørensen, head of analysis and growth at MAN Energy Solutions, whereas standing in a analysis lab outdoors Copenhagen, Denmark .

MAN Energy Solutions is certainly one of the world’s foremost designers of business ship engines. At the Copenhagen check website, Sørensen’s workforce is experimenting with completely different carbon-neutral and carbon-free fuels to see how efficient they are often at producing the immense horsepower vital to transfer container ships and bulk carriers throughout the world’s oceans.

The shipping industry is liable for three per cent of all world greenhouse gasoline emissions — an quantity equal to what Germany emits yearly. But throughout the globe, 99 per cent of shipping is presently powered by burning fossil fuels, comparable to bunker gas and marine diesel. 

“We really need to have a look at methods to rebuild current ships,” mentioned Sørensen.

A four-storey check engine at MAN Energy Systems in Copenhagen permits engineers to experiment with completely different non-carbon burning fuels. (Lily Martin/CBC)

The upcoming COP27 gathering in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, which runs Nov. 6 to 18, is predicted to zero in on the decarbonizing challenges going through the shipping industry much more prominently than in the previous. It’s anticipated the whole sector will probably be inspired, pushed and even cajoled into setting a extra formidable timeline to decarbonize, and lay out targets to hit alongside the means.

“We are taking a look at a troublesome transition [to cleaner fuels], however there’s a willingness to do that,” mentioned Sørensen. “For us, the payoff is that our know-how will probably be future-proof.”

Investigating inexperienced fuels

In one other a part of MAN’s lab, senior analysis engineer Julia Svensson examines vials with clear liquids representing a few of the inexperienced fuels that can jostle for eventual industry supremacy. 

Bio-methanol — which might be synthesized from any giant biomass, comparable to crops — is a number one contender.

“Bio-methanol is up and coming, and I believe it is the place we should always go if we actually need to go inexperienced,” mentioned Svensson.

Ammonia, which can be considerably cheaper to produce than methanol, is one other contender.

Julia Svensson, senior analysis engineer at MAN Energy Solutions, pours heavy bunker C gas right into a vial at the firm’s Copenhagen lab. (Lily Martin/CBC)

The shipping industry’s regulator, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), has set a moderately underwhelming goal of chopping greenhouse emissions in half by 2050. To meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 C world heating goal, shipping emissions would want to be fully eradicated by 2080.

Knowing this, many inside the industry are urging larger ambition, prodded by suppliers and clients who need to see greener practices all through provide chains.

Copenhagen-based Maersk, till lately the world’s No. 1 container shipper over the previous 25 years, has set certainly one of the industry’s most formidable targets for decarbonization. It’s aiming for net-zero emissions by 2040 throughout its whole enterprise. To get there, it has ordered 19 new giant ships powered by carbon-neutral, methanol-fuelled engines.

“I believe what we want to see now’s the IMO revise that focus on to full decarbonization [by 2050],” mentioned Ingrid Sidenvall Jegou, with the Global Maritime Forum, a non-profit group that is making an attempt to steer industry gamers and worldwide rules towards hitting net-zero.

In September, her group co-authored a progress report on efforts to scale up new fuels, ships and services. The discussion board’s objective is to have 5 per cent of all shipping gas be carbon-neutral by 2030. 

Ingrid Sidenvall Jegou is with the Global Maritime Forum, a non-profit group making an attempt to steer shipping industry gamers and worldwide rules towards hitting net-zero. (Lily Martin/CBC)

That date is seen as a “tipping level” after which the industry passes a crucial threshold and the adoption of unpolluted applied sciences turns into simpler.

“There will probably be economies of scale and manufacturing prices will go down, comparable to what we have seen in renewable vitality extra broadly,” Jegou mentioned.

The report’s considerably pessimistic conclusion, nevertheless, was that progress towards that 5 per cent goal was solely “partially on monitor.”

The trillion-dollar query

While there are actually greater than 200 pilot initiatives round the world devoted to carbon neutrality in shipping, main capital investments in services comparable to gas manufacturing and storage are badly wanted.

The whole eye-popping price ticket of the transformation, industry-wide, is estimated to be between $1 trillion and $1.4 trillion US.

The container ship Evelyn Maersk is loaded in Hamburg, Germany. The Danish firm Maersk has ordered 19 zero-emission vessels in an effort to get rid of its carbon footprint by 2040. (Fabian Bimmer/Reuters)

Along with uncertainty about targets, and which gas will finally turn into the customary, the shipping industry has failed to discover a widespread imaginative and prescient on how to pay for the transition — particularly, how a lot of a worth to put on carbon. 

Two small Pacific nations, the Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands, that are each affected by rising ocean ranges, have proposed a carbon tax of $100 US a tonne for burning polluting fuels.

The International Chamber of Shipping, an affiliation representing shipping strains, has proposed a carbon tax of a paltry $2 a tonne.

A proposal by Japan would see a world carbon tax being collected beginning in 2025. It would start at $56 a tonne, with the cash being ploughed again into the shipping industry to assist construct infrastructure for the zero-carbon future.

Alan McKinnon, professor of logistics at Kuehne Logistics University in Hamburg, Germany, says resistance has come from smaller nations, comparable to Panama, with an outsized dependence on shipping and issues about the financial penalties of a carbon tax.

“They clearly worry that that is going to work in opposition to their pursuits,” mentioned McKinnon.

Brian Østergaard Sørensen is the head of analysis and growth at MAN Energy Solutions in Copenhagen. (Lily Martin/CBC)

The European Union has determined not to look forward to the IMO to decide and has introduced that beginning subsequent yr, ships calling at European ports could have to start paying into the bloc’s emissions buying and selling scheme, which serves the identical perform as a carbon tax.

“When I used to be at the COP [Conference of the Parties] final yr in Glasgow, lots of people had been saying we actually want to get to net-zero by 2050,” mentioned McKinnon. “And to drive that, you worth incentives — you want carbon pricing.”

Creating ‘inexperienced corridors’

To attempt to get previous the disagreements and generate momentum, 22 nations got here collectively at the Glasgow convention to sign the Clydebank Declaration. The intent is to create “inexperienced corridors” to spur ports and shipping firms to construct or retrofit their services alongside particular routes the place new, greener fuels will probably be produced and saved. 

In Canada, the Port of Vancouver has mentioned it’s exploring choices with U.S. ports in Seattle and Juneau, Alaska, to create a maritime route for the cruise ship industry the place “zero greenhouse gasoline emission ships might succeed,” in accordance to a press release launched by the port.

People stroll on Stanley Park’s seawall close to container ships anchored in English Bay in Vancouver. The Port of Vancouver has partnered with two American ports to attempt to develop ‘inexperienced corridors’ to spur the growth of low-emission fuels. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)

But whereas the United States and plenty of European nations have signed onto the declaration, key shipping nations comparable to South Korea, China and South Africa haven’t.

Cost and the size of time required for the costly investments to pay for themselves stay main obstacles for a lot of creating nations — though some consultants consider that the anticipated bill of $1 trillion is manageable.

“We suppose the premium [for consumers] will probably be small,” mentioned Bo Cerup-Simonsen with the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Centre for Zero Carbon Shipping in Copenhagen. The non-profit analysis and growth centre has been closely concerned in selling new inexperienced applied sciences.

“We are usually taking a look at an extra value of lower than one per cent [on goods that are shipped],” he mentioned. The problem, he says, is having correct rules to permit the prices to be unfold all through the provide chain.

Bo Cerup-Simonsen, CEO of the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Centre for Zero Carbon Shipping in Copenhagen, is seen on the metropolis’s waterfront. (Lily Martin/CBC)

Environmental activists have focused shipping industry practices intensely in the previous, particularly for utilizing high-sulphur gas and for poor security practices main to oil spills. Some advocates have little religion now that the industry will carry out any higher when it comes to mitigating local weather change.

“It’s like herding cats to get all the nations of the world to agree on one thing — however we have now to agree,” mentioned Roc Sandford with the U.Ok.-based local weather activism group Ocean Rebellion. He emphasised that to attain a net-zero goal, demand for all shipped items should merely go down.   

“A whole lot of stuff is shipped throughout the world, after which shipped again,” mentioned Sanford, suggesting world provide chains want to be simplified. 

Reducing world tanker fleet

He additionally mentioned drastically decreasing the manufacturing of fossil fuels will take away a lot of the world’s tanker fleet from the equation.

“We want to [eliminate fossil fuel production] actually shortly and that may knock out 40 per cent of shipping,” mentioned Sandford.

Alan McKinnon, the logistics skilled, agrees that bettering the vitality effectivity of shipping operations — from slowing down vessels in order that they burn much less gas to loading them extra effectively— are all important to decreasing the industry’s carbon footprint.

“Post-COVID, many firms [aiming] to enhance the resilience of their provide chains are occupied with shortening their provide chains, and possibly in the future utilizing deep-sea container shipping lower than they presently do,” he mentioned.

A cargo ship strikes below the Bayonne Bridge in New Jersey because it heads into port on Oct. 13, 2021. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The shipping industry’s efforts to turn into greener have come far later than different components of the transportation sector — for instance, electrical automobiles have gotten commonplace and plenty of jurisdictions have deadlines to finish gross sales of fossil fuel-burning automobiles.

While there was some promising progress on the excessive seas, McKinnon says the activity for the industry stays daunting.

“[Ships] can have a working lifetime of 30 or 40 years and the alternative charge for vessels is comparatively gradual. So this transition to low-carbon vessels goes to take some time.”


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