Poseidon Principles: Shipping goes greener
‘To decarbonise an economy is not a simple subtraction; it requires a near-complete overhaul,’ stated The Economist recently in an editorial addressing climate issues. The publication was emphasising the urgency required to tackle rising world temperatures which now follow a frightening exponential trajectory.
The Economist’s statement could apply as well to global shipping as to individual nation states. The quest for entirely new low- or zero-carbon marine fuels is urgent, especially since experts warn that there is no silver bullet. Decarbonisation is a fundamental aspect of the IMO’s 2030 and 2050 climate ambitions and there is certainly no time to lose. However, more pressing still is the industry’s desulphurisation drive which will affect most business models of many vessel operators within months.
By the time that SMM opens its doors in Hamburg next year, many of today’s uncertainties may have become clearer. By next September, we should have a better idea of likely marine fuel prices in the short run and whether or not an investment in scrubbers or LNG proved to be smart strategies.
By then, we will also be further down the road in determining the possible marine fuels of the future and their relative strengths and weaknesses. At present, ammonia and hydrogen seem to be gaining ground.
Amid these unprecedented uncertainties, it is easy to lose confidence and become downbeat. But, as Ben Franklin is supposed to have said, ‘Out of adversity comes opportunity’. This is more evident than ever in the global shipping industry today.
A wave of new technologies, many of them based on marine digitalisation, are making ships and their operation significantly more efficient. They are improving hull and propulsive efficiency, increasing cargo intake and raising safety standards.
Shipping’s ingenuity will not be beaten. And nowhere will this be more striking than at the industry’s leading biennial gathering in Hamburg next year, which includes the Global Marine Environmental Congress – gmec 2020, a one day conference taking place on September 9th when shipping’s green credentials and challenges will come under the spotlight.
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