International shipping is going low-carbon

Reaching 5% of zero-emission fuels used in world tranports by 2030 are needed to decarbonize shipping in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The analysis argues that the terms of the Paris Agreement (maintaining global warming below 1.5°C) can only be met if, and only if, shipping has carbon-free fuels by 2030 and these make up 5% of the fuel mix.

The Getting to Zero coalition is targeting “commercially viable” zero-emission ships by 2030. In 2019, the University Maritime Advisory Service (UMAS) conducted a study describing the most feasible pathways to achieve decarbonization of international shipping by 2050. To estimate the tipping point that shipping must reach by 2030, researchers estimate that zero-emission fuels must account for 27 percent of total energy by 2036, and 93 percent by 2046.

According to these calculations, the 5% adoption rate of zero-emission fuels must be achieved by 2030.
This is in line with the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

As with all historical industrial transformations, the adoption of zero-emission fuels in shipping is meant to follow an S curve. But what is it ? An S curve can be divided into of three phases:

– A slow emergence phase, where learning is rapid and costs begin to fall.

 – Then comes a diffusion phase, with a quick adoption of the new technology, confidence takes hold, increasing demand and encouraging investment along the value chain.

– Finally, when the new technology is adopted and a new normal is established, the curve becomes flat.

All of this forms the letter S as the transformation moves through the various stages of adoption.

By clarifying this goal, it would enable to gather engagement from all of parties :

  • Energy companies will have greater confidence in demand when planning green fuel development projects.
  • Cargo owners could pay a premium for zero-emission fuels on a corresponding percentage of their freight.
  • Investors could quantify the amount of investment needed along the value chain.
  • Ship-owners could plan investments in new construction and refurbishment.
  • Regulators could be called upon to ensure a fair competition to enable the transition.

The goal of the “Getting to Zero” coalition is ambitious, but very necessary: to save our planet. A recent IMO report on greenhouse gases indicates that this is indeed the direction to take.

The growing number of players joining this organization is a sign that all entities involved in international trade are focusing on climate and ecological issues in order to preserve the planet.

This movement is strongly endorsed by Customs Bridge, whose values of environmental protection in international trade are aligned with those of the Getting to Zero coalition. We look forward to its success.