As 2021 draws to a close, decarbonization in marine shipping remains at the top of the agenda, but initial targets for climate reduction appear to be slipping beyond achievability.
At the UN Climate Change Conference COP26, the key topic for debate was what needs to happen to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, as agreed by 196 parties in the Paris Agreement of 2015.
Current efforts are not making the impact required to achieve this goal, as shown by this year’s IPCC climate change report, which said that an increase of 2C will be exceeded during the 21st Century unless efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are considerably increased.
This incentivised world leaders to a flurry of activity, including two declarations specific to the marine industry.
In the first of these, the 14 signatories of the Declaration on Zero Emission Shipping by 2050, led by Denmark and including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Norway, have committed to increasing the ambition of current goals, aiming to completely eliminate CO2 and other damaging emissions by mid-century. A positive move indeed – although it’s worth noting that several shipping companies and global businesses had already declared their own commitments to zero emissions by 2050 before the conference.
Also at COP26, a total of 19 countries, including all of the above, signed to the Clydesdale Declaration for Green Shipping Corridors. This agreement agreed to the creation of specific international shipping routes – at least six by 2025 – that would fully support zero-emissions shipping, “with participation from ports, operators and others along the value chain, to accelerate the decarbonisation of the shipping sector and its fuel supply.” The idea here is to incentivise first movers in green shipping with some economic and strategic advantages.
There’s little shortage of ambition, goals and declarations. What remains less clear are the precise steps and priorities to achieve these aspirations. In this video, Christoph Rofka, SVP at ABB Turbocharging, explains the principles that should guide leaders in industry and institutions along the path to progress.