Shipping has a dual challenge. It must meet the demand of the worlds growing population, with more ships and more voyages, while radically reducing its emissions.
Sustainable challenges have been addressed worldwide and IMOs ambitious goals to cut green-house gas and carbon emissions impacts the shipping industry at every possible scale, including cleaner fuels, new technologies, regulations, economic factors and collaboration.
Therefore, Shell together with Deloitte, have elaborated this research, in which more than 80 interviews have been conducted to senior shipping leaders, achieving a thorough representation of the industry. The objectives are clear: provide a comprehensive perspective from authorized voices of the sector and to establish clear, possible and effective solutions to face the environmental demands.
Conclusions converged in taking into account a new attitude: think big, start small and scale fast. In this sense, focus has to be made in scaling-up customer demand, global regulatory alignment and commitment, intensifying research and development through every sector involved, establishing coalitions and pilot projects and fostering investment. Likewise, guaranteed production and distribution infrastructure for new fuels stand out as crucial aspects, and operational efficiency will remain as a feasible way to tackle decarbonisation of the actual shipping fleet.
Decarbonisation is one of the biggest challenges we face as an industry. However, we have never been more united around a problem, and there is optimism that we can make it happen.
The main inputs and contributions are:
- In a capital-intensive industry, decarbonization could cost $1.65 trillion by 2050.
- Interviewees coincide in the daunting challenges they are facing. However, there are multiple reasons to be optimistic.
- Following the automobile revolution, a new approach is needed. Taking an ecosystem perspective considering that each individual has a role to play, thinking big, starting small and scaling fast as its major principle, and targeting behaviours and triggers, in order to develop effective solutions than can really make a change.
- Different barriers have been identified in the course of decarbonisation. Market and customer demand, moved by thin margins, are not willing to assume the cost or neither invest. Misalignment in a regulatory framework between major actors (China, US and Europe) could bring down fundamental pillars to be built. There is a lack of technology alignment and clarity on roles and decision making. In addition, the ease of asset and infrastructure replacement play against possible investments.
What is evident is that, despite the complexity, the industry sees that viable net-zero carbon shipping is achievable. It cannot be just one company or sector, but with all hands on deck, we can make it happen together
The set of actions proposed are grouped into three phases, to unlock, accelerate and scale to overcome the barriers:
- Unlock: create scale in demand for low or zero-emissions shipping, establish a worldwide clear regulatory framework, intensify partnerships through interested parties and increase development, through pilot projects involving every stakeholder.
- Accelerate: to keep the momentum, coordinated initiatives must be increased, ship designs should consider flexibility due to existing uncertainty, port coalitions are change agents and investments should be encouraged and inhibited.
- Scale: securing production and distribution of new fuels by establishing strategic partnerships with companies and ports.
The roadmap has been set up and two significant events frame every possible next step. The expected IMO regulation for 2023 is considered to suppose a catalyst for industry-wide collaboration and commitment. On the other hand, it is believed that by 2030, the first net-zero vessels should be entering the commercial fleet. The struggle is real and it is urgent, because and quoting the research 2030 is tomorrow, 2050 is one ship lifetime away.