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Comment: LNG is key to 2040 sustainable shipping goals

Thu 25 Feb 2016 by Alastair Fischbacher

Comment: LNG is key to 2040 sustainable shipping goals
Alastair Fischbacher, Sustainable Shipping Initiative

A key area for action in the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) Vision for 2040 is to transform shipping’s fuel supply from reliance on heavy fuel oil (HFO) to a diverse mix of low carbon energy sources that supports the dramatic reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG) and other emissions.

Improvement is urgently needed with carbon emissions from global shipping amounting to nearly one billion tonnes a year and rising – accounting for 2–3 per cent of global and 4 per cent of European Union GHG emissions.

The SSI supports increasing the uptake of proven and viable clean technologies and measures that improve fuel efficiency, reducing fuel burn and its associated emissions.

However, improved efficiencies will not be enough to move the industry completely to a lower-carbon footing. Therefore, in addition to energy-efficiency improvements, where there are viable and proven cleaner fuels available such as LNG, methanol and biofuels, then these should be advanced.

The SSI and its members have taken a leading role in accelerating take-up for LNG as a cleaner fuel. Carnival has ordered the world's first LNG-powered cruiseships, AP Moller-Maersk has partnered with Royal Dutch Shell and Qatargas to further develop LNG as a marine fuel, and ABN Amro recently provided the world’s first sustainable shipping loan when it agreed late last year to finance construction of Anthony Veder’s 18,000mᶾ ice-class 1A super LNG carrier,Coral EnergICE.

ABS and Lloyd’s Register have provided technical guidance and helped to safely and securely develop the market by classing some of the first LNG vessels, and Wärtsilä has supplied the propulsion machinery for Viking Grace, the world’s first LNG-powered passenger vessel.

Collectively, these developments and others have begun to negate the challenge facing LNG’s development as a bunker fuel – namely that it requires significant investment in infrastructure to see the market develop at scale.

By identifying and understanding the barriers and opportunities to market take-up of cleaner fuels, the SSI and its members are taking practical steps and demonstrating technological advancements to support the shipping industry in its quest for more sustainable fuels.

The SSI’s Progress Report to 2015 acknowledges the significant challenges that lie ahead in transitioning shipping to a lower-carbon-fuelled model.

Essential to accomplishing this will be a robust, progressive and equitable framework designed and implemented by the IMO driving the rapid reduction of GHG emissions, supporting the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) target of less than 2°C warming, as agreed at the COP 21 meeting in December in Paris.

Alastair Fischbacher is chief executive of the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI)

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