The revolution must start now!

The International chamber of shipping’s annual report is here. The focus is on the climate and the "fourth propulsion revolution", which is to ensure that carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by 50% by 2050. And a revolution is needed. Since 2010, emissions have increased.


In a press release published with the release of the report, Esben Poulsen Chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), says:
“ICS is acutely aware of the urgent need for international shipping to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions as soon as practicable, through a combination of short and longer term measures. The sector has already made impressive CO2 reductions since 2008, something for which the shipping industry is given insufficient credit. But now the industry must redouble its efforts to deliver further dramatic improvements in fuel efficiency, as demanded by governments and society at large”.

Yes, efforts need to be made. According to the report's statistics, shipping's carbon dioxide emissions, just as Poulsen says, are less now than in 2008, but the reduction was made in connection with the financial crisis and up to 2010. Since then, emissions have again increased slightly.

So what needs to be done to achieve a 50% reduction in emissions in 30 years? According to ICS, the technologies required do not yet exist, at least not on a sufficiently large scale to function commercially, but one is still convinced that the goal will be resolved.
”This will require truly massive investment in research and development, which ICS believes must be at the heart of the IMO GHG Strategy if the ambitious reduction targets that IMO Member States have set are to be met”, Esben Poulsen says.

ICS has also provided detailed proposals on how to speed up development. Among other things, one supports to further tighten up the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) – which already requires vessels built in 2025 to be 30% more efficient than those delivered in 2013.

ICS also highlights the fact that, when account is taken of projections for future trade growth, the industry cannot achieve the 2050 GHG reduction target using fossil fuels alone. This may require an efficiency improvement of around 90% compared to 2008, which cannot be delivered with current propulsion systems. If the 2050 reduction target is to be met, commercially viable low emission ships need to start appearing on the market by the 2030s.

It is also noted that the growth facing the industry makes it difficult to reach the 2050 target. With today's fossil fuels, this would require an efficiency improvement of 90 percent compared with 2008. An impossibility of course. New technologies and fuels must therefore not only be developed and commercially viable on the market around 2030.
Over the next decade, the sector is therefore going to require massive investment in research and development of zero (or near zero) CO2 emitting fuels, propulsion systems and other new technologies.