As governments come together at the UN International Maritime organization(IMO) to consider the next steps to decarbonise shipping, the global maritime industry urges them to proceed with the $5 billion research and development programme. Funded by the industry, the project is aimed at achieving the transformation of the industry away from its dependence on fossil fuels and to seek alternative zero carbon energy sources.

According to BIMCO, members of the IMO are clearly behind the calls for action on this proposal which will help the industry develop the necessary technology to achieve the decarbonisation target. Although total emissions from shipping are approximately 7% lower than in 2008, there is a limit to what can be achieved whilst ships remain dependent on fossil fuels and the global demand for maritime services continues to grow. The reduction demanded by the IMO – to reduce total emissions by 50% by 2050(compared to 2008), can only come from identifying new viable technologies. These include nuclear power, hydrogen, and ammonia produced from renewable energy sources, which do not yet exist in a format that could be applied to large oceangoing ships. Many complex technical questions remain to be answered including safety, storage, distribution, energy density considerations and the life-cycle impacts.

Shipping industry has therefore proposed this $5 billion research programme managed by IMO and financed through a contribution of two dollars per tonne of fuel consumed, under the control of an international Maritime research and development board (IMRB). To be successful the contributions need to be mandatory to ensure that all shipping companies contribute, so that the necessary funds will be available to achieve the programme’s objectives.

The shipping industry is eager to work with governments to ensure that this initiative is implemented as soon as possible, the target of 2050 can only be achieved with the immediate acceleration of zero carbon fuels and technologies and the will be the vehicle driving the project. Other stakeholders in the project include energy suppliers, technology companies, research and development institutions and foundations who would all be welcome to participate and contribute. The proposal is backed by the International ship owner associations which collectively represent some 90% of the world’s merchant fleet operations.

BIMCO is the world’s largest shipping Association with 1900 members in 120 countries shipowners, operators, brokers and agents.