Globalisation has changed the world. The needs and wants of people worldwide need to be met, and container ships are toiling day and night to make that possible. The oceans of the world are filled with food produce, clothes, electronic goods, cars and all manner of items being imported and exported around the globe. People have no need to go without, but that possibility comes at a price. Currently, container ships emit 2% of the world’s carbon emissions, equating to roughly the same amount as Germany, and with no change to the sector, this is set to increase substantially.
According to The Independent, the world’s shipping industry has agreed to half CO2 emissions by 2050. This huge step forwards will bring the shipping industry, which has been largely ignored despite it’s substantial emissions, further in line with the Paris Agreement. Representatives from 170 countries spent 2 weeks at the International Maritime Association, discussing how best to clean up the industry. Of course, there was some opposition to changes, the most notable being from the USA and Brazil, but the goal was made to create a zero emissions industry by 2050. In order to meet this goal, they plan on making newly built ships run only without fossil fuel by 2030.
Even though this pledge to half carbon emissions by 2050 has been made, which is not legally binding, it didn’t go far enough for some countries. The Martial Islands, who are at imminent risk from climate change and rising sea levels, were hoping for a reduction of at least 70% by 2050, as compared to a 2008 baseline. Even so, to achieve these goals, it will be important for the shipping industry to innovate quickly. According to Olof Widen, Senior advisor at the Finnish Shipowner’s Association, they “have in the pipeline some new builds which will use fuel cells”, which would be able to reduce emissions.
New, more efficient ships of course will make an enormous difference, but what seems not to have been taken into consideration is the usage of more efficient, or even carbon neutral fuels, which would essentially render shipping a zero emissions industry. Using the innovation of Sunfire, who create synthetic fuels using renewable energy and carbon captured from the air, the future of logistics could be altered drastically. It will be a while until cars, freight trucks, container ships and aircraft will be fully electric from renewable sources. A zero net emissions synthetic fuel can mitigate against shipping emissions in the mean time.
The Independent: - Carbon Emissions from Global Shipping to be Halved by 2050
Clean Technica: -Global Shipping Body Adopts 50% GHG Emissions Reduction Target