WHILE the use of LNG as ship’s fuel is becoming more common as it is currently widely available in important bunkering ports such as Rotterdam and Singapore it is still emitting GHG and CO2. Consequently, other technologies for the use in ship’s propulsion, which have zero GHG and CO2 emissions, are currently being considered and in some case already being trialled.

One of the frontrunners being trialled is hydrogen, but the use of electric batteries (mainly in short haul trips), ammonia, alcohol and methanol are also considered. Even nuclear power is considered as the use of this technology in ships has made major advancements. One would suspect that nuclear powered vessels might encounter some resistance in being able to berth in several ports in the world.

The Port of Rotterdam wants to achieve the zero emissions target by 2050. The IMO has currently set a more modest target to reduce the international shipping sector’s GHG emissions at least 50% below 2008 levels by 2050. On 1 January of this year the successful introduction of low sulphur fuel used by commercial shipping was achieved. Another alternative was the use of scrubbers which removed the harmful particles out of the heavy fuel. Transportation comprises 23% of global GHG emissions, freight and logistics generate 8-10% of CO2 emissions. Road transportation is the dominant source with 62%, followed by shipping at 27%. It is expected that by 2050 a three-fold increase in freight transport is predicted resulting in a doubling of GHG emissions.

The European Parliament recently voted in favour of including GHG from the maritime sector in the European Union’s carbon market from 2022, throwing its weight behind EU plans to make ships pay for their pollution. Shipping is the only sector which does not face EU targets to cut emissions, but it is coming under increased scrutiny as the bloc attempts to steer industries towards its plan to become “climate neutral” by 2050. 

All-in-all there is renewed focus on making shipping and transportation more sustainable in the years to come but we still have a long way to go.