Level playing field for ships must be assured while shipping industry decarbonises

There are many initiatives within the shipping industry to develop technology for zero-carbon ships. There are also several projects outside the sector looking to develop and scale-up production of zero-carbon fuels. But are they commercially viable and is regulation the answer?

The Paris Agreement sets the ambition for the world in terms of climate-change mitigation. Collectively, action by all sectors of society worldwide should aim to keep global warming at a maximum 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level.

From a shipping industry perspective, the path is clear. Ships must de-carbonise and it must happen soon. It is about how and when – not if.

Zero-carbon ships are likely to employ innovative technologies – for engines and ancillary equipment – and new fuel types that leave at least carbon-neutral footprints. We are talking expensive new equipment and costly new fuels.

Could it be done by regulation? If the burning of fossil fuel was to be banned from a certain date in the future, only zero-carbon shipping would be available. This would be an extremely risky strategy that would likely create a major shortage of transportation supply and result in massive disruptions to economies across the globe.

The difficulty is of political nature. The world has agreed to tackle climate change with respect for national differences and respective capabilities. The phrase used in climate policy is “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” (CBDR-RC). It means that each country should contribute in any way that it can, and those ways may differ from one country to another.

Read more here: Regulation – BIMCO Bulletin (cpl.co.uk)