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New position paper outlines potential pathways to reduced CO2 emissions from the shipping industry

World Cement,

A new position paper from DNV Research and Innovation has outlined the possibilities for reducing CO2 emissions from shipping.

The shipping industry is responsible for an ever-increasing portion of the world’s CO2 emissions. This is due, in part, to the sector’s already-heavy dependency on fossil fuels, but it is also being contributed to by growing volumes of seaborne trade. While today’s CO2 emissions from ships count for 3% of the global total, that could climb to as high as 10% by 2050 if current growth trends continue and no measures are taken to mitigate this side-effect. Fuel prices are on the rise, and as with many other heavy industries, environmental regulations aren’t far off either.

DNV’s ‘pathways’ study shows a doubling of present CO2 emissions by 2050 if nothing is done. However, it draws attention to the fact that given a widespread uptake of operational and technical measures, as well as the introduction of fossil fuel alternatives such as biofuels and LNG, a cost effective CO2 reduction potential of 50% will be possible in 2050. However, if CO2 emissions from shipping were halved by 2050, the relative share of global emissions contributed by shipping would still be double that of what it is today, since other industries would also improve. Hence, more must be done to maintain the current balance.

“If shipping should be required to reach emission levels in 2050 consistent with a global 2 oC stabilisation target, we need to do more than stabilising emissions at their present level. To achieve the 2 oC target, the shipping sector must reduce CO2 emissions by 60% from today’s emission level,” said Magnus Strandmyr Eide, Senior Researcher at DNV Research and Innovation and main author of the ‘pathways’ study.

The study has identified two plausible pathways for the 2 oC target for shipping; either allowing for nuclear power, or by providing financial incentives for biofuel. It is realised that other pathways are possible, e.g. by including technologies currently very costly or immature, or through technological breakthroughs which are not identified, but which should be expected. From the existing alternatives, the introduction and use of biofuels stands out as the best option, considering the overall environmental, safety and security impacts.

Widespread use of biofuel in shipping depends on price, incentives and availability in sufficient volume. To capitalise on the potential, action must be taken by ship-owners as well as technology developers and regulators. This includes development of full-scale onboard prototyping and testing, as well as infrastructure development for bunkering.

Adapted from press release by Jack Davidson.

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