International Chamber of Shipping wants to expedite the transition to zero-carbon fuels, The National News reports.
The global shipping industry has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by mid-century – but only if governments impose a mandatory levy on shipping fuel to fund the development of new low-carbon technology.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), which represents the majority of the global shipping industry, submitted the plans to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the worldwide regulator and part of the UN.
While international regulations require the global shipping industry to cut its emissions by 50% compared with 2008 levels, the International Chamber of Shipping wants the International Maritime Organization to double this target and commit to net zero emissions by the middle of the century.
The global shipping industry urged international governments to back a $5 billion research and development fund to develop zero-carbon technologies on Tuesday and called for a carbon levy for the sector as it looks to expedite the transition to more expensive zero-carbon fuels.
The International Chamber of Shipping is pushing governments to double the International Maritime Organisation’s ambition to reduce emissions from the sector by 50% by 2050.
Britain calls for net-zero global shipping emissions by 2050
The trade body, which represents 80% of the global shipping industry, has submitted plans to the industry’s UN regulator outlining the urgent measures needed to help the industry achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“Talk is cheap, and action is difficult. So, our net zero offering sets out the ‘how’ as well as the ‘what’ for decarbonizing shipping by 2050. We’re saying to governments that if they really want to reach net zero, they need to move from empty commitments to tangible action,” said Esben Poulsson, chairman of ICS.
“A net-zero carbon ambition is achievable by 2050. But only provided governments take the unglamorous but urgent decisions needed to manage this process within a global regulatory framework.”
? A global carbon tax on #shipping would be a vehicle for solidarity with the countries most vulnerable to #climatechange. @shippingics' proposal for a climate fund aims to accelerate the research, development & deployment of #netzero vessels. https://t.co/7zvMfvqRsb #RaceToZero
— Nigel Topping (@topnigel) September 10, 2021
While international regulations require the global shipping industry to cut its emissions by 50% compared with 2008 levels, the ICS wants the IMO to double this target and commit to net zero emissions by the middle of the century.
Last month, Britain, the host of this year’s Cop26 environment summit, backed the demand with transport secretary Grant Shapps, saying “taking action now” will help Britain “lead the charge on this global shift” to clean shipping.
However, the ICS criticized the UK government for not publicly supporting its $5bn research and development fund, aiming to get ocean-going zero-emission ships in the water by 2030 and help the sector achieve net-zero by 2050.
In its submission to the IMO, ICS said the shipping industry accepts the vital need to accelerate decarbonization timelines, but it stated that a net zero target by 2050 will only be plausible if governments take the necessary actions to achieve this.
“The adoption by IMO of a net-zero target will send the very strong signal sought by the industry, as well as energy providers, shipbuilders and engine manufacturers, so that investments in green fuels and technology can be accelerated and scaled.” ICS said.
Given the typical 25-year life of new ocean-going ships, thousands of zero-emission ships will need to be in the water by 2030 to ensure ambitions can be met.
The IMO must accelerate an increase in technology readiness levels, the ICS said, with a key step towards this is governments approving the $5 bn IMO Maritime Research Fund (IMRF) at a critical IMO meeting in November, two weeks after Cop26.
The IMRF proposal will provide guaranteed levels of funding to accelerate the development of zero emission ships, without requiring governments to use taxpayers’ money because it will be funded by mandatory R&D contributions from shipowners globally.
The ICS has also called for a a broader carbon levy applicable to shipping, set to be considered by IMO members at a meeting this month, to close the price gap between zero-carbon and conventional fuels.
The ICS proposal also includes plans for intellectual property sharing among industry innovators in zero carbon technologies further to accelerate the pace of change in the sector.
The industry group called for a carbon levy on shipping, a new fund for the development of low-carbon technologies and a 25% cut in emissions by 2030, moving to zero emissions from shipping by 2050.
Green campaigners said to The Guardian that the plans were unrealistic, however, and accused the ICS of obstructing progress on alternative measures that were more likely to be effective.
The IMO’s current target is to halve carbon dioxide emissions from international shipping by 2050, although scientists have warned that global greenhouse gas emissions must reach net zero around mid-century to limit global heating to 1.5° C.
Ships run on dirty, low-grade fuel oil, which is high in carbon and produces air pollutants, and is hard to replace with cleaner fuels. Shipping makes up about 3% of global emissions but this is likely to rise to as much as 17% by 2050 if the sector goes unregulated, and shipping is not covered by UN climate treaties.
The ICS has previously called for a “moonshot” research fund of $5bn to spend on developing zero-carbon ships, to be paid for by a levy of $2 per tonne on shipping fuel. Among the promising technologies for reducing emissions from ships are hydrogen, in the form of ammonia, which tests have shown could be used as a shipping fuel. Such a levy would have to be agreed by governments to be made mandatory by the IMO.
Esben Poulsson, the chair of the ICS, said: “Our net zero offering sets out the ‘how’ as well as the ‘what’ for decarbonising shipping by 2050. We’re saying to governments that if they really want to reach net zero, they need to move from empty commitments to tangible action.”
The IMO will meet before the Cop26 UN climate summit in Glasgow next month to discuss cutting emissions from shipping. Previous IMO meetings have produced little progress on climate plans.
Green campaigners said the ICS’s plans did not add up. The ICS has opposed moves by the EU to extend its existing emissions trading scheme to cover shipping, which would generate an estimated $70bn over the next decade that could be invested in green technologies.
Faig Abbasov, the shipping program director at the Transport and Environment thinktank, said: “Talk is cheap in the run-up to Cop26 and it will take more than a $2 fuel levy to drive the technological transition. If the shipping industry is serious about decarbonisation, it should support a carbon price that will generate far more revenue, such as the Europeans are proposing.”
John Maggs, of the campaign group Seas at Risk, said: “ICS claims to support greater ambition, but then insists on a raft of provisions that can only weaken ambition and the industry’s response to the climate crisis.
“Focusing on CO2 alone ignores both black carbon emissions, which are responsible for 20% of the ship climate problem, and the growing problem of methane emissions from LNG-powered ships … ICS should be supporting the proposals [for zero emissions from shipping] already on the table at IMO, not trying to undermine them.”
Madeline Rose, the climate campaign director at Pacific Environment, said: “The shipping industry needs to be emitting absolutely zero climate pollution by no later than 2040 to do its fair share to help the world mitigate catastrophic climate change and biodiversity loss.
“We urge national governments to carry on with the work of negotiating an absolute zero emissions target on a timeframe compatible with 1.5° C global warming pathway, along with mandatory policies like clean fuel standards, pollution pricing, and bans on new build fossil fuel ships.”