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Shipping sector proposes $5 billion R&D program to cut emissions

Dec 18, 2019 10:16 AM

The goal is commercially viable zero-carbon emission ships by the early 2030s

The following is text of a news release from BIMCO:

(LONDON) — The global maritime transport industry has submitted a proposal to form the world’s first collaborative shipping research and development (R&D) program to help eliminate CO2 emissions from international shipping. The proposal includes core funding from shipping companies across the world of about $5 billion (U.S.) over a 10-year period.

 Highlights of the proposal:

• A new non-governmental R&D organization to pave the way for decarbonization of shipping. 
• Core funding from shipping companies across the world of about $5 billion over a 10-year period. 
• To accelerate the development of commercially viable zero-carbon emission ships by the early 2030s. 
 
International maritime transport carries around 90 percent of global trade and is currently responsible for approximately 2 percent of the world’s anthropogenic CO2 emissions. To achieve the Paris Agreement’s climate change goals, rapid decarbonisation is vital – also for international shipping. It is shipping’s global regulator, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which has responsibility for regulating the reduction of CO2 emissions by international shipping.   
 
The industrywide move to accelerate R&D is necessary to ensure the ambitious CO2 reduction targets agreed to by IMO member states in 2018 are met.  
 
These ambitious IMO targets include an absolute cut in the sector’s total greenhouse gas emissions of at least 50 percent by 2050, regardless of trade growth, with full decarbonization shortly after. The 2050 target will require a carbon efficiency improvement of up to 90 percent, which is incompatible with a continued long-term use of fossil fuels by commercial shipping.  
 
Meeting the IMO GHG reduction goals will require the deployment of new zero-carbon technologies and propulsion systems, such as green hydrogen and ammonia, fuel cells, batteries and synthetic fuels produced from renewable energy sources. These do not yet exist in a form or scale that can be applied to large commercial ships, especially those engaged in transoceanic voyages and which are currently dependent on fossil fuels.  
 
The shipping industry is proposing the establishment of an International Maritime Research and Development Board (IMRB), a non-governmental R&D organization that would be overseen by IMO member states. 
 
The IMRB will be financed by shipping companies worldwide via a mandatory R&D contribution of $2 per tonne of marine fuel purchased for consumption by shipping companies worldwide, which will generate about $5 billion in core funding over a 10-year period. 
 
This $5 billion in core funding over a 10-year period generated from the contributions is critical to accelerate the R&D effort required to decarbonize the shipping sector and to catalyse the deployment of commercially viable zero-carbon ships by the early 2030s.  
 
Although the R&D program and its funding is an initiative of the leading international shipowners’ associations, additional stakeholders’ participation is welcomed. A global fund can be established quickly, and the shipping industry is confident that other stakeholders will also want to contribute, potentially generating substantial additional funding for R&D.  
 
In a proposal to the IMO, the industry has set out details for governance and funding of the coordinated R&D program, which can be put in place by 2023 via amendments to the existing IMO Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). 
 
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.

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