Call to action: government commitment essential to decarbonize maritime transport by 2050

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The terms ‘a level playing field’ and ‘commercially viable’ were mentioned repeatedly during a launch event on Wednesday that called on governments around the world to act on climate change and pledge to decarbonise the planet. maritime transport sector by 2050.

The industry is seeking a just transition to zero emissions – and a transition that will not deprive it of benefits.

More than 150 organizations and companies in shipping, freight, infrastructure, ports, finance and energy signed a call to action, encouraging world leaders to align shipping with the goal of l ‘Paris Agreement to prevent the increase in global average temperatures from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius. This is what scientists agree to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.


“The timing for this call to action couldn’t be better. More than ever before, eyes are on the global supply chain, mainly due to the ongoing disruptions affecting almost all freight movements. It is clear that political efforts are needed to guide the industry towards future fuels and increasing efficiency. But the scale of this effort to decarbonize shipping is massive and requires collective action, ”said Tyler Cole, director of carbon intelligence at FreightWaves.


The International Maritime Organization’s decarbonization target is to reduce emissions by 50% by 2050, compared to 2008 levels. IMO is expected to review its emissions targets in 2023.

The signatories called on governments to:

  1. Commit to decarbonizing international maritime transport by 2050.
  2. Support zero-emission maritime transport projects on an industrial scale through national actions.
  3. Put in place policy measures that will make zero emission shipping the default choice by 2030.

“The full decarbonization of international shipping is urgent and achievable,” the message endorsers sent to governments in a statement read.

The signatories said the shipping industry is poised to decarbonize – the technology is available and sustainable fuels exist – but it won’t work without government intervention. Many green transportation solutions are very expensive and require economies of scale and innovation to become commercially viable.

During the event, several signatories also stressed that this transition must be fair and cannot force developing countries to pay a green premium.

“The bad news is that the market will not resolve itself. If the market has to decide, we have the answer, and that is carbon-based fuels. As evidenced by the many signatories of this call to action, the industry is in fact ready to move. We now need governments and regulators to act with us and enforce the right regulations in an ambitious climate, ”said Lasse Kristoffersen, CEO of Norwegian shipping company Torvald Klaveness and vice chairman of the board of the International Chamber. of the merchant navy, during the launch. event Wednesday.

Several speakers mentioned governments’ track record of over-pledging and under-delivering, while they said private entities under-pledged and over-delivered. However, they also expressed hope for government collaboration and involvement to spur innovation in the private shipping sector.

“To reach zero [emissions], there are many challenges that need to be resolved. We need the right technology, access to fuel and infrastructure. But perhaps more importantly, we need clear regulations and we need market-based measures to encourage the use of zero-emission fuels. This is why we support the call to action for governments to commit to decarbonization. … It cannot be done by one company or one country. We are part of a global industry, so we need global rules. Otherwise it won’t work – we need a level playing field for the whole industry, ”Øistein Jensen, sustainability director at Odfjell SE, told FreightWaves.

Ships are responsible for around 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions and transport nearly 80% of the goods traded globally by volume, the statement said.

“If you deal with the hard-to-shrink industries first, the world will decarbonize faster,” Michael Parker, president of global transportation, logistics and offshore at Citigroup, said at the event.

Parker said the challenge in the coming months will be to educate politicians and dramatically increase the number of signatories so that “we can change history” at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, early November.

The Getting to Zero coalition, the alliance that launched the call to action, is a partnership of the Global Maritime Forum, the Friends of Ocean Action and the World Economic Forum.

“We applaud this and similar efforts by businesses and private organizations to influence policy making,” Cole said. “Maritime transport is clearly the leader in all freight sectors, closely followed by air transport. I hope to see future collaborations occur in road and rail freight.

Click here for more articles on FreightWaves by Alyssa Sporrer.

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