ABS Outlook Identifies Strategies for Reaching Low Carbon Shipping Targets

unmanned autonomous ship
Illustration courtesy ABS

International classification society ABS has launched its Low Carbon Shipping Outlook to help the maritime sector evaluate potential paths to decarbonization in the industry.

The outlook defines ship technologies, operational efficiencies, and alternative fuels and energy sources needed to reach 2030 and 2050 targets set by the International Maritime Organization.

The outlook notes specifically that while 2030 targets can be met through operational measures and efficiencies driven by connectivity, data analytics and energy efficient designs, 2050 targets will require an advancement in fuel technology.

During 2018’s meeting IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee, members agreed to initial strategy that envisions reducing the total annual GHG emissions from shipping by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels, while at the same time pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely.

To fully understand what it will take to adopt alternative fuels globally, ABS looks to LNG fuel for comparison, noting that it has taken 10 years for LNG bunkering infrastructure to develop and supply less than 1% of the global fleet. Other alternative fuels will face similar infrastructure development, regulatory and supply chain challenges, ABS says.

“Despite all the noise and confusion about IMO 2020, the disruption from the global sulphur cap is likely to be dwarfed by what comes after it. The greatest challenge of our generation – and the next – will be the decarbonization of the shipping industry,” said Christopher J. Wiernicki, ABS Chairman, President and CEO. “That’s why ABS has published this Outlook to inform the shipping industry as it journeys into the unknown waters of the 2030/2050 emissions challenge. It is designed to help bring into focus the numerous issues surrounding the decarbonization movement as it evolves from today’s ambitions to tomorrow’s reality.”

To assess the potential of the main operational options available to shipping, ABS commissioned a study from Maritime Strategies International (MSI) to analyze the potential impact on the industry’s carbon footprint. It also worked with the Herbert Engineering Corporation to specify design requirements for two concept containerships which, while too advanced to be built today, shed light on the gap between state-of-the-art technology and the demands of the 2050 GHG targets, ABS says.

“The transition to a low-carbon and clean-emissions future is challenging the industry to find solutions that are at once commercially viable, technically feasible and safe. Since shipping is already an efficient mode of transport and significant reductions in fuel consumption have been achieved recently from improvements in design and operations, it will be difficult to find further meaningful GHG-related gains solely by using current technology,” said Gurinder Singh, ABS Director of Sustainability. “The reduction targets for 2030 are challenging but, as they are a measure of carbon intensity, they allow for trade growth. However, any measures taken to meet those goals must also consider 2050 targets if they are to account for the growth in trade and transportation demand while reducing GHG emissions. This will require new technologies.”

To download a copy of ABS’ report, Setting the Course to Low Carbon Shipping, visit www.eagle.org.