Shipping Industry Leaders Call for Decarbonization of International Shipping

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About 150 global companies and organizations, including the Northwest Seaport Alliance, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and the Panama Canal Authority, on Sept. 22 called for the global shipping industry to be fully decarbonized by 2050, urging governments around the world to take action.

The signatories of the Call to Action for Shipping Decarbonization urged world leaders to align shipping with the Paris Agreement temperature goal.

“The private sector is already taking important steps to decarbonize global supply chains. Now governments must deliver the policies that will supercharge the transition and make zero emission shipping the default choice by 2030,” the letter reads in part.

“Full decarbonization of international shipping is urgent and achievable,” the letter continues. “This is the clear message from more than 150 industry leaders and organizations representing the entire maritime value chain, including shipping, cargo, energy, finance, ports and infrastructure.”

In conjunction with the UN General Assembly, and ahead of climate negotiations at COP26 in Glasgow this November, they’ve call on governments to work together with industry to deliver the policies and investments needed “to reach critical tipping points” in decarbonizing global supply chains and the global economy.

Ships transport around 80% of global trade and account for about 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The UN’s International Maritime Organization adopted an initial GHG strategy in 2018 that aims to reduce international shipping’s total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% of 2008 levels by 2050.

The signatories made note that private sector is already taking concrete actions to decarbonize shipping, including investing in research, development & demonstration and pilot projects, ordering and building vessels operated carbon neutrally, buying zero emission shipping services, investing in the production of net-zero emission fuels, investing in port and bunkering infrastructure, and assessing and disclosing the climate alignment of shipping related activities.

“For the world to decarbonize, shipping must decarbonize,” A.P. Moller – Maersk CEO of Fleet & Strategic Brands Henriette Hallberg Thygesen said. “Our customers are looking to us to decarbonize their supply chain emissions. We are investing significantly in the carbon neutral emissions technologies that are readily available. To make such investments the default choice across our industry, we need a market-based measure to close the competitiveness gap between fossil and zero emission fuels of today and the carbon neutral fuels of tomorrow.”

“Decarbonizing shipping should leave no country behind,” Global Maritime Forum Chief Executive Officer Johannah Christensen said. “To make the transition to zero emission shipping and fuels equitable and inclusive, policy measures must make sure that decarbonizing shipping also brings jobs and opportunities to people in developing countries and emerging economies.”

The Call to Action’s signatories are specifically calling on world leaders to:

  • Commit to decarbonizing international shipping by 2050 and deliver a clear and equitable implementation plan to achieve this.
  • Support industrial scale zero emission shipping projects through national action, for example by setting clear decarbonization targets for domestic shipping and by providing incentives and support to first movers and broader deployment of zero emissions fuels and vessels.
  • Deliver policy measures to make zero emission shipping the default choice by 2030, including meaningful market-based measures, taking effect by 2025 that support the commercial deployment of zero emission vessels and fuels in international shipping.

The Call to Action was developed by a multi-stakeholder taskforce convened by the Getting to Zero Coalition—a partnership between the Global Maritime Forum, the World Economic Forum and Friends of Ocean Action.