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IMO agrees at least 50% reduction in carbon emissions from shipping by 2050


The UK Chamber of Shipping has hailed an agreement by the International Maritime Organisation to reduce carbon emissions from shipping by 50%.

CEO Guy Platten said:

“This agreement commits the shipping industry to reducing its carbon emissions by at least 50% by 2050.  But crucially this should be seen as a stepping stone towards decarbonisation in the long term – something that must be continue to be a major focus in the years ahead.

“Shipping moves 90% of global trade, and people understand the link between trade and prosperity, but rightly they demand we do it in a sustainable and responsible way.  Climate change is real and we have a responsibility to play our part in preventing further damage to the environment."

Mr Platten argued that meeting these targets will require significant investment in research and development, but that they will also create economic opportunities.

“The shipping industry has already made great strides.  Battery-powered ferries operate in Scotland, Scandinavia and elsewhere.  Huge investment has gone into better hydrodynamics, more efficient engines and lower carbon fuels.  But make no mistake, these marginal gains alone are not enough to meet the 50% target, and certainly will not be enough meet the public’s expectations of a more fully decarbonised industry.  

“In truth, there is widespread understanding that in the long-term the industry needs to be powered by carbon-free fuel, and that will almost certainly mean a mix of battery, hydrogen and other zero-carbon fuels.

“Whilst battery and hydrogen cell technology does exist, their current capabilities are not sufficient to become the dominant fuels of the industry at this time.  So research and development is now required on a massive scale.

“Last year the UK Government put £250m of investment into battery R&D but that was targeted almost exclusively at the automotive sector.  We need to see that kind of government-industry collaboration now applied to the shipping industry."

Mr Platten warned that the UK could not afford to leave the R&D to others.

“Other countries are already investing heavily in developing carbon-free fuels for ships.  The UK could, of course, leave them to it.  But if the future vision for the industry includes much greater use of carbon-free fuel in international shipping, having that technology developed in the UK will mean huge opportunities to create jobs and generate wealth.  The UK Government should pledge therefore to make the UK a world leader in carbon-free fuels through investment in research and development."