THE International Chamber of Shipping has submitted plans to the International Maritime Organization for urgent measures that governments must take to help the ocean shipping industry achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

Ahead of the shipping industry’s COP26 decarbonisation conference, “Shaping the Future of Shipping”, ICS is pushing governments to double the ambition of the IMO’s current target of a 50% reduction in emissions from shipping by 2050.

ICS’s plans include a compulsory research and development fund to develop zero-carbon technologies. The plans also include a carbon levy for shipping to expedite the transition to more expensive, zero-carbon fuels.

In its submission, the ICS accepts the need to accelerate decarbonisation timelines. However, it states that a net-zero target by 2050 will only be plausible if governments take the necessary actions.

A statement from the ICS said the IMO’s implementation of a net zero target will send the very strong signal sought by the industry, as well as energy providers, shipbuilders and engine manufacturers, so that investments in green fuels and technology can be accelerated and scaled.

“Given the typical 25-year life of new oceangoing ships, if the industry is to meet an ambitious net zero target, thousands of zero-emission ships will need to be in the water by 2030. It will therefore be critical for the IMO to adopt those urgent measures required to accelerate an increase in technology readiness levels. A key step is for governments to approve the establishment of the US$5 billion IMO Maritime Research Fund (IMRF) at a critical IMO meeting this November, just two weeks after COP 26,” the ICS’s statement reads.

“This call supports the IMRF proposal which will provide guaranteed levels of funding to accelerate the development of zero-emission ships, without requiring governments to use taxpayers’ money. This is because the IMRF will be funded by mandatory R&D contributions from shipowners globally, via a US$2 levy, which the shipping industry wants in place by 2023.”

The ICS has also made a comprehensive proposal that sets out the architecture for a broader carbon levy applicable to shipping. This is to be considered by IMO member states at a meeting in mid-October. The levy is to help close the price gap between zero-carbon and conventional fuels and could provide funds for new bunkering infrastructure to ensure the industry’s green transition for both developed and developing countries.

ICS chairman Esben Poulsson said, “Talk is cheap, and action is difficult. So, our net zero offering sets out the ‘how’ as well as the ‘what’ for decarbonising shipping by 2050. We’re saying to governments that if they really want to reach net zero, they need to move from empty commitments to tangible action.

“A net zero carbon ambition is achievable by 2050. But only provided governments take the unglamorous but urgent decisions needed to manage this process within a global regulatory framework.”

ICS GHG measures working group chairman John Adams said, “We have expended a great deal of senior industry leaders time deliberating and analysing the most effective and equitable proposals to ensure that we can decarbonise our industry quickly and effectively. If adopted by governments at the IMO, these measures could lead to regulation that will swiftly move the shipping sector and associated industries towards a zero-carbon future.

“Governments can make a huge statement of their intent to get behind this new timeline by approving the industry’s proposed $5bn R&D fund in November at the IMO.”

ICS secretary general Guy Platten said, “This is a unique case of an industry demanding to be more tightly regulated on carbon emissions and putting its hand up to do the grunt work of getting there. We’re not trying to win headlines – we’re trying to reach net zero.

“If a net zero target is to be more than a political gesture, governments need to recognise the magnitude of the challenge of phasing-out carbon dioxide emissions from large oceangoing ships. Only these proposed measures can tackle the innovation and knowledge gap, and challenges of a global equitable transition, that shipping’s decarbonisation presents.”