Report: It's Possible to Decarbonize Shipping by 2035
Deployment of all currently known technologies could make it possible to almost completely decarbonize maritime shipping by 2035, according to a new report published by the International Transport Forum at the OECD.
Four different decarbonization pathways examined for the study would reduce international shipping’s CO2 emissions between 82 and 95 percent below the level currently projected for 2035. This reduction equals the annual emissions of 185 coal-fired power plants.
Alternative fuels and renewable energy can deliver much of the required reductions. Currently available biofuels could be complemented by other natural or synthetic fuels such as methanol, ammonia and hydrogen. Wind assistance and electric propulsion have shown that they can bring additional reductions.
Technological measures to improve the energy efficiency of ships could yield a substantial part of the needed emission reductions. Market-mature options include, among others, hull design improvements, air lubrication and bulbous bows.
Operational improvements such as slower ship speeds, smoother ship-port co-ordination and use of larger, more efficient ships could bring further, important emission reductions.
Rapidly falling costs of battery technology for electric vehicles suggest that the technology might become a more viable and readily available option also for other transport sectors such as shipping.
As some of the measures are currently more expensive than marine propulsion using oil-based fuel, the report authors urge governments to accelerate the commercial viability and technical feasibility of some solutions. Governments could encourage green shipping domestically by supporting research into zero-carbon technologies; ports should provide shore power facilities, electric charging systems and bunkering facilities for alternative fuels; shippers should assess the carbon footprint of their supply chain and target transport options with zero-carbon ships and both private and public financial institutions could offer incentives.
The work for the report was carried out with support from the European Climate Foundation.
The report is available here.