Shipping sector says clean R&D board is needed to go green

The new non-governmental body would ‘pave the way for decarbonisation of shipping’ and help develop clean propulsion technologies

The shipping sector has proposed a collaborative $5 billion (£3.75bn) research and development board to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from international shipping.

Organisations from across the industry have called for the creation of a new non-governmental body to “pave the way for decarbonisation of shipping” and accelerate the development of commercially-viable clean ships by the early 2030s.

The maritime sector is currently responsible for approximately 2% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – its regulator, the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO), has responsibility for implementing the rules and legislation that will carry it towards a more environmentally-friendly future.

In 2018, IMO member states agreed to deliver an absolute cut in the sector’s total greenhouse gas emissions of at least 50% by 2050, followed by full decarbonisation shortly after – this initial goal will require a carbon efficiency improvement of up to 90%, which is incompatible with continued long-term use of fossil fuels.

Meeting these goals is predicted to require new zero-carbon technologies and propulsion systems such as green hydrogen, batteries and synthetic fuels to be developed at scale – industry say an International Maritime Research and Development Board (IMRB) would work to achieve this.

The body would be financed by shipping companies paying a mandatory $2 (£1.5) per tonne of marine fuel, which would generate about $5 billion (£3.75bn) in core funding over a 10-year period.

The shipping industry’s proposal will be discussed by governments in London at the next meeting of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee in March 2020.

Esben Poulsson, Chairman International Chamber of Shipping, said: “The coalition of industry associations behind this proposal are showing true leadership.

“The shipping industry must reduce its carbon dioxide emissions to meet the ambitious challenge that the IMO has set. Innovation is therefore vital if we are to develop the technologies that will power the Fourth Propulsion Revolution. This proposal is simple, accountable and deliverable and we hope governments will support this bold move.”

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