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Shipping Industry Backs ‘Moon-Shot’ $5 Billion Program to Accelerate Its Decarbonization

Mike Schuler
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March 10, 2021

Shipping trade groups representing the vast majority of the global shipping industry are throwing their support behind a “moon-shot” proposal by governments for a $5 billion research and development fund to help accelerate zero-carbon fuels and technologies within the shipping industry.

The proposal, which was submitted today to the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) by governments controlling a major share of the world’s shipping tonnage, builds on a concept first proposed by shipping industry participants in November during the 75th Session of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC75).

The proposal called for 10-year, $5 billion program that would be managed by an IMO-supervised non-governmental organization known as the “International Maritime Research and Development Board” and funded through a “International Maritime Research Fund (IMRF)” of a mandatory $2 per metric of marine fuel consumed by every ship.

The new proposal, submitted today by shipping nations including Georgia, Greece, Japan, Liberia, Malta, Nigeria, Singapore, and Switzerland, addresses various operational, administrative, legal and governance aspects put forward by governments at the MEPC 75 meeting.

“Responding to the UN Secretary-General’s call for ‘urgency and ambition’ on climate change, the entire global shipping industry is giving ‘full and unequivocal’ backing to a moon-shot proposal submitted by governments, to catalyse the complete decarbonisation of maritime transport by deployment at scale of zero-carbon ships within a decade,” said a joint statement by shipping industry trade groups including BIMCO, CLIA, IMCA, INTERCARGO, INTERFERRY, International Chamber of Shipping INTERTANKO, IPTA and World Shipping Council.

The trade groups are calling on “all governments” to “be on the right side of history” and take forward the proposal at the next meeting of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 76) taking place in June, with a view to approval in November.

“Decarbonisation can only take place with a significant acceleration of R&D, as zero-carbon technologies do not yet exist that can be applied at scale to large ocean-going ships. A well-funded R&D programme, which the industry has agreed to pay for within a global regulatory framework, needs to commence immediately under the supervision of the UN IMO,” the groups said in the joint statement.

“Recognising the urgency and ambition required to decarbonise, shipping industry groups are calling for all governments to be on the right side of history in supporting this ambitious proposal.”

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