ICS Forecasts Carbon-Free Shipping After 2050
On Monday, as the U.N. COP23 climate conference opened in Bonn, the International Chamber of Shipping announced its vision for a carbon-free fleet in the second half of the century. For the intervening decades, ICS proposes that IMO member states should adopt a "suitably ambitious goal" for a reduction in carbon emissions, based on an "agreed percentage."
“It will be for governments to agree the actual reduction number when they adopt an initial IMO strategy next April," said ICS director of policy Simon Bennett. "And this is also going to have to address the legitimate concerns of major economies such as China and India about the implications for future trade and their sustainable development.” ICS noted that delegations from the EU and the Pacific Islands have proposed cuts of up to 70 percent by 2050, and Japan has proposed a 50 percent reduction by 2060 – a target that Bennett described as both “incredibly ambitious” and “realistic.”
In addition to any climate measures that IMO may adopt, Bennett says that unrelated regulatory initiatives are likely to lead to emissions reductions in the near term. "A significant increase in marine fuel costs is expected in 2020 due to the mandatory global switch by the entire world fleet to low sulphur fuels," he said. "This should greatly incentivise, to the extent this is possible, the further reduction of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by ships.”
Eventually, Bennett foresees a carbon-free fleet. “ICS has a vision of zero CO2 emissions from shipping in the second half of the century. We are confident this will be achievable with alternative fuels and new propulsion technologies," he said. These technologies could include batteries, fuel cells, hydrogen or something not yet anticipated. However, ICS adds that the entire world fleet is unlikely to enjoy access to new alternative fuels for at least another 20 or 30 years.
Last month, UK-based advocacy organization InfluenceMap alleged that ICS, BIMCO and the World Shipping Council used their access to U.N. policy-making processes to delay the implementation of climate regulations on shipping. ICS, IMO and WSC denied these charges.
ICS was an active participant in events at the COP21 climate conference in 2015, and it will be involved in this month's proceedings at COP23 in Bonn, where it will represent its member national shipowners' associations.