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New report: It is possible to decarbonize shipping by 2050

01 November 2021

Industry action combined with regulations an a global carbon price. In a new report, Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping presents a strategy for how shipping will be fossil-free by 2050.

In global shipping, the will and commitment to combat climate change has increased dramatically in recent years, Maersk writes in its report. Shipping companies have set goals for their own decarbonization, ships with alternative propulsion are ordered and much more is in the pipeline. But it's not enough. Even if all the commitments that exist today are fulfilled, only 22 percent of shipping will still be fossil-free by 2050. Due to the fact that transport is increasing, in fact, carbon dioxide emissions from shipping are estimated to increase by 20 percent.

However, it is possible to get down to zero in 2050, Maersk states. What is required is a total change of the entire industry's business ecosystem. Of course, this is a very complex task and measures must be implemented now or in the next few years. The report identifies four main drivers that will be needed within this decade for fossil-free shipping to be achieved by 2050:

A level playing field through global regulation: A flat carbon levy of USD 230 per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted implemented in 2025, combined with requirements for the development of energy efficiency, customer willingness to pay and the introduction of new global policies. If funds are earmarked and returned to early users of alternative fuels, the costs for these can be reduced.

Competitive alternative marine fuels at large scale: When the price is between twice and eight times as expensive as compared to fossil fuels, the incentives to switch to alternative marine fuels are limited. Therefore, alternative fuels (hydrogen, methanol, ammonia, methane, biogas, etc.) must be made commercially viable and available on a large scale through innovation and development of permits, licenses, standards, regulations, new market mechanisms and documentation of reduced emission intensity from a life cycle analysis perspective.

More and better energy efficiency measures: Tougher and stricter rules for energy efficiency must be introduced to reduce the industry's total energy needs. Today, it is possible to streamline and improve operational practices with the help of digital technology and analysis, but this is not generally implemented. The total potential for higher energy efficiency in the global fleet is still very large.

Support for front runners: Those who are already working to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions should not be penalized. These front runners must be widely supported in their efforts and regulatory measures must be put in place to ensure a broader adoption of change. The cost gap between fossil fuels and alternative fuels must also be reduced.

To the report

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