ICS sets out path to net zero by 2050

Written by Nick Blenkey
Green shipping graphic

Image: Shutterstock

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has submitted a proposal to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), detailing urgent measures that governments need to take to help shipping achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. This is twice as ambitious as IMO’s current target of reducing emissions from international shipping by 50% by 2050.

The ICS proposals include a compulsory R&D fund to develop zero-carbon technologies, and the development of a carbon levy for shipping to expedite the transition to more expensive zero-carbon fuels.

In its submission, the ICS, which represents 80% of world shipping, says that a net zero target by 2050 will only be plausible if governments take the actions necessary to achieve this. “The industry,” says ICS, “has therefore taken the unique step of proactively setting out the measures that must be taken by governments to make decarbonization by 2050 a reality rather than a soundbite.”

The adoption by IMO of a net zero target will send the very strong signal sought by the industry, as well as energy providers, shipbuilders and engine manufacturers, so that investments in green fuels and technology can be accelerated and scaled.

Given the typical 25-year life of new oceangoing ships, if the industry is to meet the 2050 net zero target, thousands of zero-emission ships will need to be in the water by 2030. It will therefore be critical for the IMO to adopt those urgent measures required to accelerate an increase in Technology Readiness Levels.

The ICS supports the proposal for establishment of a $5 billion IMO Maritime Research Fund (IMRF) that will be on the agenda at s critical IMO meeting this November, just two weeks after COP 26.

The $5 billion R&D fund proposal which will provide guaranteed levels of funding to accelerate the development of zero emission ships, without requiring governments to use taxpayers’ money. This is because the IMRF will be funded by mandatory R&D contributions from shipowners globally.

To expedite the transition to net zero, ICS has also made a comprehensive proposal setting out the architecture for a broader carbon levy applicable to shipping, which will be considered by IMO Member States at a meeting in mid-October. This global carbon levy will help close the price gap between zero-carbon and conventional fuels and could be used to provide the billions of dollars needed to deploy essential new bunkering infrastructure required in ports worldwide, to ensure consistency in the industry’s green transition for both developed and developing economies in the run up to 2050.

Talk is cheap, and action is difficult. So, our net zero offering sets out the ‘how’ as well as the ‘what’ for decarbonizing shipping by 2050,” said Esben Poulsson, Chairman of ICS. “We’re saying to governments that if they really want to reach net zero, they need to move from empty commitments to tangible action. A net zero carbon ambition is achievable by 2050. But only provided governments take the unglamorous but urgent decisions needed to manage this process within a global regulatory framework.”

John Adams, Chairman of the ICS GHG measures working group commented: “We have expended a great deal of senior industry leaders time deliberating and analysing the most effective and equitable proposals to ensure that we can decarbonise our industry quickly and effectively. If adopted by governments at the IMO, these measures could lead to regulation that will swiftly move the shipping sector and associated industries towards a zero-carbon future.

“Governments can make a huge statement of their intent to get behind this new timeline by approving the industry’s proposed $5 billion R&D fund in November at the IMO.”

The proposal, available also includes plans for the sharing of intellectual property amongst industry innovators in zero carbon technologies, to accelerate the pace of change within shipping.

Read the ICS proposal.

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