Zero Emissions in 2050

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), emissions from international shipping could grow between 50 percent and 250 percent by 2050 mainly due to the growth of the world maritime trade. In order to reduce emissions and contribute to the objectives set out in the Paris Agreement, the shipping industry must speed up the implementation of new technology and sustainable solutions.

The Norwegian Shipowners' Association recently launched a new strategy to speed up the transition. The members aim to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent per unit by 2030 compared to 2008, and they will only order zero-emission technology from 2030. The term zero-emission vessels refer to vessels equipped to operate without emissions most of their time at sea. The ultimate goal is to have a climate-neutral fleet by 2050, and the report Zero emissions in 2050 describes how the industry will achieve this.

The report has identified six necessary measures:

  1. Reduce emissions by upgrading existing fleet. The report points out that it is not good for the environment to send fully functionable vessels to early scrapping and recycling.
  2. Use low and zero-emission fuels from an early stage to increase the demand, and contribute to the development of infrastructure for these fuels.
  3. Phase in ships with zero-emission technology as quickly as possible, and no later than 2030 in order to achieve zero emissions from 2050.
  4. Operate ships as energy-efficiently as possible through voyage planning, low friction anti-fouling paint, and optimized speed.
  5. Implement a life cycle perspective on ships and fuel to identify the best overall solutions, and ensure that renewal and replacement do not lead to an increase in emissions.
  6. The members of the Norwegian Shipowners' Association shall measure, analyse and publish their environmental and climate accounting in a consistent, relevant and transparent manner.

The feasibility of these measures will depend on support from both national and international authorities. The report points out that the authorities must establish market regulations that make it profitable to order zero-emission technology, and target research development recourses related to the development and testing of zero-emission solutions. The Norwegian Shipowners' Association also wish to establish a research and development fund for zero emission technology under the auspices of IMO, and will work towards an international ban from 2050 on fuel that is not climate neutral.

By Anna Lygre Solvang