IMO Accelerating The Race To Zero Emission Shipping

The COVID recovery will require a new growth and innovation agenda for societies to rebuild in line with climate commitments. To address this issue, a series of “Race to Zero” dialogues to spur greater climate action across all sectors are being held.

IMO’s Secretary-General Kitack Lim opened the series’ shipping segment, reiterating that:

“Today, economies are ever more interdependent and natural resources are under increasing pressure. The transition of the maritime sector towards a more sustainable future has never been more important, nor more opportune. As we confront the COVID-19 pandemic, we must forge a sustainable recovery, in which combating climate change is paramount.

Race to zero emissions
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IMO has adopted an initial strategy to reduce GHG emissions from ships. The specific goal is to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, which is a significant reduction in carbon intensity for individual ships of over 80%.

At the same time, IMO is pursuing efforts to phase out GHG emissions from shipping entirely, as soon as possible within this century.

As a first step to achieve these ambitious goals, we are expected to adopt measure to meaningfully reduce ship’s carbon intensity.

These measures will drive innovation and design for energy efficiency and also provide essential building blocks for future emission reduction measures.

But we need to go further.

To reach a zero-carbon future for shipping, we will need new technologies, new fuels and innovation.

Decarbonization will only be possible with targeted investment and strategic partnerships, which also address the needs of developing countries.

Exciting research and development into zero-carbon marine fuels is underway – renewable hydrogen or ammonia for example – but more action is needed to speed up this process and this means huge investments in R&D and infrastructure.

To achieve this, IMO is stepping up its efforts to act as the global forum and promoter of R&D in low- and zero-carbon marine fuels, bringing together interested stakeholders, from public and private sectors, private and development banks, and other donors.

In parallel, IMO will embark on innovative emission reduction mechanisms to incentivise the uptake of alternative renewable fuels.

We want to ensure that no country is left behind in this energy transition. IMO continues to lead the way with the portfolio of continuously expanding technical cooperation and capacity building projects.

IMO’s GHG strategy has sent a clear signal that now is the time to start developing the vessels, the fuels, and all the other necessary infrastructure to support zero-emission of shipping.

The route to zero-carbon shipping will not be easy, but I am hopeful that the range of initiatives I have highlighted — will lead the way.

Maritime trade is vital to the world’s economy. We must all work together to enable a sustainable post-pandemic recovery and to ensure that shipping has a truly sustainable, decarbonized future.”

During the “Accelerating the Race to Zero-Emission Shipping” session (11 November), hosted by the World Economic Forum, leaders from the shipping value chain also highlighted how crucial the next five years will be to ensure a successful transition to zero-emission from shipping by 2050. “It needs to start with IMO, we need clear regulations”, declared Rasmus Bach Nielsen of Trafigura, a freight company. The session concluded by reaffirming that this is the moment to reset, focus on innovation, and accelerate the shift to sustainable and resilient modes of transport.


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