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New strategy to reduce shipping emissions

09 December 2022

Increase energy efficiency, create an infrastructure for alternative fuels, regulate more tightly and promote bold first movers. This is the path towards fossil-free shipping according to a new strategy that the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping presented in a webinar on Friday.

“Our position is that shipping must be involved and contribute to solving the climate crisis. Shipping is an obvious part of the world's transport and supply chains, and if the world is to change, then shipping must also do so”, said Bo Cerup-Simonsen, CEO of the research center Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, when he started the webinar on Friday morning.

The problem is that shipping is not contributing, continued Cerup-Simonsen, and showed a graph that revealed that shipping's emissions are in fact increasing.

“If we continue on the current path, we will not reach the goal of a 45 percent reduction in emissions compared to 2010 in 2030, let alone reach net zero in 2050. Therefore, we must work faster and in relation to the Paris Agreement's 1.5 degree goal.”

According to the strategy report Maritime Decabonization Strategy 2022, there are no shortcuts. Everyone must do their part – companies, governments and individuals – no matter what the cost will be. The challenge is described as huge and complex, but it is not impossible if everyone in the maritime system comes together and takes action. The shipping industry already has the most important component required for a changeover – the will to act.

So what must be done? The strategy identifies four key areas as the path to fossil-free shipping.

  1. Elevating onboard energy efficiency
  2. Enabling alternative fuel pathways
  3. Promoting abatement action through regulation, policy, and commitments
  4. Promoting bold first movers and fast followers

“Shipping has had the advantage of not being as regulated as other industries, but that must never be an excuse for not doing something. I see 2023 as a window of opportunity for the IMO to tighten its current target of reducing climate emissions by 50 percent compared to 2008 until 2050. It must be net zero by 2050”, said Sara Åhlen Björk, Chief Economist at the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping.

BO Cerup-Simonssen also emphasized the importance of shipping companies and companies that are at the forefront of the changeover.

“We see how some actors step up and invest in technology that accelerates the transition even though it is not required of them. Not only is it inspiring for the entire industry, it also shows that a way forward is actually possible. Although these first movers so far only save a marginal part of shipping's emissions, they have an enormous catalytic effect in accelerating the transition.”

Read the strategy

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