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Lighthouse - November, 2020.


A new report entitled “Zero Carbon for Shipping” from an international conservation organization – Ocean Conservancy, launched at a virtual gathering of world leaders at the climate week in New York highlighted the global shipping industry’s tragic role in the climate crisis. The report mentioned that the worldwide shipping industry is poorly regulated when it comes to meeting climate targets.

The report pushed the need for shipping industries to ditch fossil fuels urgently to achieve the planet’s climate goals. The emissions have been growing significantly year after year and are expected to grow 50% higher by 2050. In this regard, a panel of international shipping experts, government, and civil society aim to meet the International Maritime Organizations (IMO) voluntary goal to reduce the total annual greenhouse gas emissions to at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 and at the same time aiming to remove them entirely.

A Move Towards Total Decarbonization

Dan Hubbell, Ocean Conservancy’s Shipping Emissions Campaign Manager, remarked, “To achieve IMO’s goal and also to halt climate change, the first zero-emission ships must be on the water by 2030”. This also helps achieve total decarbonization by 2050. The move for commercial production of Zero carbon ships is on so that this need is met by 2030. Some ways for the industry to transform new clean energy sources are electrofuels derived from hydrogen or ammonia.

Few alternatives fuels considered for making better fuel and infrastructure choices are

Electrification of the shipping fleet: China, Germany, Sweden, and Norway are pioneers in various forms of electric shipping. China and Norway are not far and have begun trials on a range of new large-scale electric vessels as these are currently restricted to small ferries and coastal vessels.

Hydrogen fuel cells: Some ships produce their hydrogen from seawater and, in the process, can operate without emitting greenhouse gases or dust pollution

Ammonia: Ammonia is undoubtedly a green fuel, but the Port of Beirut’s incident questioned the safety protocols that need to be rewritten, given the fuel’s higher explosive risk.

LNG: Liquified Natural Gas as fuel has methane leaks that happen along the supply chain. Methane is more dangerous than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and has been growing 150% in 5 years. Hence the use of LNG is considered to be controversial.

According to a report for the IMO by the International Council on Clean Transport, it has been cited that the 150% growth in methane emissions from 2012 to 2018 was largely due to a surge in the number of ships fuelled by liquefied natural gas (LNG). The choices made in the next decade 2020-2030, demands immediate action as this holds the key towards a green maritime future. The Zero Carbon for Shipping report submitted by Nick Ash from Ricardo Energy and Environment noted that the IMO’s current goals are not ambitious enough. The adoption of electrofuels will lead to additional benefits like reducing the cost of renewable energy, long term jobs in infrastructure and sustainable industries, decarbonization of supply chains, and reduced reliance on imported fossil fuels.

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