Is Shipping any closer to Net Zero?
Amid the wall of COP26 noise, at times it has been difficult to separate out the firm commitments and achievements of the last two weeks. But there is no doubt progress has been made in global maritime activity.
Twenty-two countries, including the UK, the USA, Japan and Canada, have signed a Mission Statement committing to the establishment of green shipping corridors – zero emission maritime routes – with the first of the corridors to be in operation as soon as 2025. These will be shipping routes that can be decarbonised through the shipping sector and its fuel supply with participation from the ports themselves, operators and others along the value chain.
It is intended that routes will operate internationally, although each of the twenty-two nations has also committed to decarbonising a specific domestic maritime route within their jurisdiction. Critically, this must include green fuel infrastructure at the ports in question.
In addition, as part of that process, the signatories have undertaken to identify and explore actions to address barriers to the formation of green corridors. This could cover, for example, regulatory frameworks, incentives, information sharing or infrastructure. They will consider the inclusion of provisions for green corridors in the development or review of National Action Plans, and work to ensure that wider consideration is taken for environmental impacts and sustainability when pursuing green shipping corridors.
The green shipping corridors form part of the Clydebank Declaration, signed at COP26. The Declaration is a 'summing up' of the Climate Change reality and the interaction with the maritime industry, and also a call to arms for the next steps. Maritime transport emits around 940 million tonnes of CO2 annually and is responsible for about 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions . Without successful mitigation, these emissions are projected to increase significantly. The Declaration signatories re-iterated their commitment to address climate change and emphasised the importance of limiting the increase in the global average temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
At least six green shipping corridors are to be in use by the middle of this decade, with 'many more' corridors in operation by 2030.