Low Carbon Study Ready for MEPC 70
Lloyd’s Register (LR) and Shipping in Changing Climates, a $4m multi-university and cross industry research project funded by EPRSC, have released Low Carbon Pathways 2050 – a new study that details a number of potential pathways for the shipping industry’s transition to a low carbon future.
The Paris Agreement confirmed that it was not a question of whether climate change should be addressed but a question of how, and it was clear that everyone will have to contribute, says LR. Shipping currently accounts for 2.33 percent of global CO2 emissions, and there will be no space in the carbon budget to allow even the emissions of shipping (currently approximately one Gt per annum) to be ignored.
The IMO agreed at the 69th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) to establish a working group to discuss the matter further at MEPC 70 this month.
Low Carbon Pathways 2050 aims to contribute towards these discussions. Consistent with the Paris Agreement, the report gives particular focus on the technological and operational specifications of the global fleet and how these may change in relation to a given rate of decarbonization.
The report asks the question: given the best available evidence, what is a reasonable estimate of how shipping might be required to change and what does this look like?
Three future scenarios for this initial study for the period 2015–2050 were identified to demonstrate varying options for decarbonization. The first, High Hydrogen, considers the availability of hydrogen, which is used in fuel cell technology, to demonstrate what can be achieved through technology and innovation.
The second, High Bio, assumes a mid-range market penetration of biofuels in the shipping industry, and the third, High offsetting, considers the impact of a market-based mechanism.
These three future scenarios are compared to a business as usual scenario with existing regulatory commitments.
Key findings of the study include:
• Shipping will need to start its decarbonization imminently – as stringency increases over time, increasingly high-cost mitigation steps are required. The later we leave decarbonization, the more rapid and potentially disruptive it will be for shipping.
• All are ‘possible’ options for achieving absolute reductions of a scale and timeliness consistent with the Paris Agreement.
• A substitute for fossil fuel will still be required as energy efficiency improvements alone will not be sufficient in the medium to long term.
• Energy storage in batteries and renewable energy sources will have important roles to play, but are likely to still leave a requirement for a liquid fuel source.
• Additional regulations that may be developed for other emissions need to be considered, for example; methane, black carbon and particulate matter.
• Technological and operational characteristics are just some of the considerations that need to be taken into account.
Following this initial study, LR and SCC will convene industry roundtable discussions on the findings of the report and facilitate the development of future possible scenarios in collaboration with the industry to create and share knowledge and tools that can contribute to reducing GHGs from shipping.
Low Carbon Pathways 2050 is the latest in LR’s series of reports looking at fuel and technology trends for the marine industry, aimed at developing new knowledge and tools that can contribute to policy debate. Previous reports include Global Marine Trends 2030, Global Marine Fuel Trends 2030 and Global Marine Technology Trends 2030.
The study is available here.