Guy Platten, CEO of the UK Chamber of Shipping, has demanded an ambitious strategy to reduce carbon emissions from shipping, as the crucial meeting of the International Maritime Organisation in London continues this week.
The IMO is the UN body that regulates the global shipping industry, which is responsible for 90% of world trade. This week, the body's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) – which is made up of the governments of maritime nations around the world – will meet to agree a new strategy to reduce carbon emissions .
It is widely considered to be vital that a global strategy is necessary to ensure a 'level playing field' for companies operating in all regions of the world. The aim is for the industry to pay its fair share and decarbonise in line with the Paris Agreement, while ensuring that international operators remain on an equal competitive footing.
Mr Platten said:
“People understand that trade brings prosperity, but they rightly demand it is undertaken in a sustainable and environmentally responsible way.
“The shipping industry has made huge strides in recent years – from battery-powered ferries, to the development of much more efficient engines, to a dramatic increase in the use of lower carbon LNG-fuelled ships – but we have a long way to go.
“That’s why we are supporting a reduction in carbon emissions of at least 50% by 2050 based on 2008 figures.”
But Mr Platten warned the road to decarbonisation will not be easy, and will require significant government support.
“There is no silver bullet here. Instead, we will reduce our carbon emissions through small marginal gains in a wide range of areas – better hydrodynamics in ship designs; better planning of routes to ensure ships aren’t waiting outside ports for long periods; greater flexibility to avoid bad weather.
“But make no mistake: these measures alone will not deliver the significant decrease in carbon emissions necessary. Only the introduction of zero-emission fuels will do that – as is the case across all modes of transport.
“There is no doubt that significant investment in Research and Development will be required – and government has a role to play. Last year the UK Government announced £250m of funding for battery research, particularly for the automotive and energy sectors.
“We know the Government is determined to prove its green credentials. In doing so, they must consider what their role will be in developing the technology necessary for shipping to decarbonise. The industry can and will play its role, but it cannot do it alone.”
Concluding, Mr Platten argued that compromise will be necessary for IMO Member states to reach agreement:
“There are many different views from many different countries. This week it is vital that a compromise is reached. The world is watching, and they expect us to act.”