Shipping ‘an example of how to create a zero-emission future’

Over 200 representatives from members of the Getting to Zero Coalition joined the Coalition’s second biannual working session last week, conducted online.

The Getting to Zero Coalition is an alliance of more than 150 member organisations within the maritime, energy, infrastructure, and finance industries, as well as governments and international organisations. It was launched at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York in September 2019 and is a partnership between the Global Maritime Forum, the World Economic Forum, and the Friends of Ocean Action (itself convened by the World Economic Forum and the World Resources Institute). The Coalition’s ambition is that commercially viable zero-emission vessels should be operating on deep sea shipping trades by 2030.

Discussions at the working session included: the creation of funding mechanisms to motivate and de-risk first mover investments; policy instruments and market-based measures to close the competitiveness gap between conventional and zero-emission fuels and associated infrastructure; how to narrow the choice of technologies, fuel options and transition pathways; and the identification and development of green energy projects to propel shipping’s decarbonisation to contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth in developing economies.

During the working session, Krisitan Teleki, Director of Friends of Ocean Action, reiterated the need for global co-operation: ‘The decarbonisation of shipping and its energy value chains represents a large-scale systemic challenge and opportunity. This working session has proven that it will require close collaboration and collective action between the maritime, energy, infrastructure, and finance sectors, with support from government and international organisations. Members of the Getting to Zero Coalition represent the breadth and width that is required, and we invite others who share our bold ambition to join them.’

At the meeting, research was presented which showed that the IMO’s 2030 goal of reducing shipping emissions by 40% will not be enough to prevent shipping’s adverse effect on the climate.

Nonetheless, the meeting generated optimism. Johannah Christensen, Managing Director, Head of Projects & Programmes, Global Maritime Forum, said, ‘Members of the Getting to Zero Coalition are fully committed to fast-tracking shipping’s decarbonisation. I am impressed by the desire to collaborate, share learnings, and take concrete action. While members are working together to develop new technologies and business models, they call for ambitious, global regulation to set the industry on a climate-friendly course, but they are prepared to move ahead of the IMO and other regulators to ensure that scalable solutions are in place when regulation is adopted,”

The optimism was reflected by Nigel Topping, High-Level Climate Action Champion for COP26 (the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, to be held in Glasgow, UK, in November 2021). At the working session’s closing plenary, Topping told delegates, “the shipping ecosystem could well get to COP26 in Glasgow as an example of how to create a zero emission future and work together around decarbonisation. I look forward to seeing how other industries can learn from you and join the race to zero.’

Mark Williams

Mark Williams