The international shipping community has announced plans for the creation of the first collaborative shipping Research & Development (R&D) Fund, intended to eliminate CO2 emissions from international shipping. The proposal, which is more timely than ever, includes core funding from shipping companies across the world of about USD 5 billion over a 10-year period.
The Union of Greek Shipowners actively backs this initiative, being the latest in a series of steps taken by shipowners and the United Nations International Maritime Organization (UN IMO) towards global shipping’s decarbonization. The Fund, which can be in place by 2023 subject to UN IMO’s adoption, would be managed by an International Maritime Research and Development Board (IMRB), a non-governmental organisation that would be overseen by UN IMO Member States.
“There is at present a substantial technology gap that will have to be bridged before shipping can truly decarbonize and the Fund can act as a catalyst towards this end.” Mr. Veniamis commented. “Without innovation in alternative, fossil-free fuels, shipping will remain carbon captive. To meet the UN IMO’s ambitious goal of halving the industry’s carbon footprint by 2050, we need to meet the challenge head on: we need a technological paradigm shift”, he added.
The Fund proposal, supported by international shipowners associations which collectively represent all sectors and trades and over 90% of the world merchant fleet, comes just days after the presentation of the European Commission’s Green Deal, the new European Commission’s Communication for a carbon-free continent.
Alluding to this Communication, Mr. Veniamis remarked: “The shipping industry’s proposal is not only in line with the intentions of the EU Green Deal but it takes it to another level, as it sets in motion an international process that will truly lead to the decarbonization of shipping globally”.
The shipping industry is the only industrial sector with a globally binding climate measure in force since 2013, i.e. the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), which ensures real and cumulative reductions of the fuel consumption of newly built vessels by design. “It is noteworthy that the global shipping industry is once again pioneering an initiative which delivers on its pledges with concrete measures of demonstrable environmental results. The EU now has the opportunity to lead in the world’s efforts to mitigate climate change in the maritime area by adopting a global, pragmatic approach complementary to the UN IMO’s Initial Strategy and one that does not distort international competition by deviating from the course towards global decarbonization of the sector”, Mr. Veniamis concluded.