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ICS hints at maritime fund R&D for decarbonisation

With shipping face a major decarbonisation challenge the chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), Esben Poulsson, has suggested that the development of a maritime fund for research and development (R&D) is within reach.

Speaking at the Seatrade ShipTech Middle East conference in Dubai today, Poulsson was part of a panel of three experts debating the how the industry will achieve the challenging carbon goals set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) last year to achieve a 40% carbon reduction by 2030 and 50% by 2050.

Poulsson said that the 2018 agreement at the IMO “was a remarkable result,” with many member states coming together to bring about the result, and the maritime industry now having achieved more than many countries in fighting climate change.

However, Poulsson also added that, “We are on the road to establish how to build an R&D fund, we all have the same goal, but the question is how do we get there?”

Fellow panellist Peter Fitzpatrick, vice president of strategic development at ABS, said that collaboration was the answer to developing the new technologies in time to meet the climate change targets.

On that note unity the moderator, Fathom’s director Craig Eason, asked Poulsson if chairing a meeting at ICS was akin to “herding cats,” with shipowners from many different jurisdictions having very different goals.

In response, Poulsson said it was true that there has been a great deal of disagreement at the ICS, but he added “I sense a change over the last 12 months.”

Nevertheless, the ICS has today added a 38th member to its ranks when the UAE Shipping Association signed up to the ICS the first Middle Eastern association to the mix.

Read more: UAE Shipping Association joins the ICS

The ICS, said Poulsson, is confident of reaching the IMO targets because of these new levels of co-operation. “By 2023 a  roadmap will be established at IMO on how we will achieve these goals and I’m completely confident that we will reach this target, because there is a big will to from the membership to reach these targets.”

The third panellist, Arnaud Vasquez, president of Hyseas Energy, a research group founded by the former French navy captain, questioned whether the IMO was the right body to drive the maritime industry forward on this issue.

Poulsson was firm in his response to Arnaud, the IMO is definitely the right place. He argued that the alternative would be regional regulation from the European Union, California and other places. “This leads to distortion in the market,” he stated.