THE international shipping community has this week announced plans to create the first “collaborative shipping” research and development, aimed at eliminating CO2 emissions from international shipping.

The proposal includes core funding from shipping companies across the world of about US$5bn over a 10-year period.

International Chamber of Shipping chairman, Esben Poulsson, said the coalition of industry associations behind this proposal were showing “true leadership”.

“The shipping industry must reduce its CO2 emissions to meet the ambitious challenge that the International Maritime Organization has set,” Mr Poulsson said.


“Innovation is therefore vital if we are to develop the technologies that will power the 4th Propulsion Revolution. This proposal is simple, accountable and deliverable and we hope governments will support this bold move.”

The fund is to be financed by shipping companies worldwide via a mandatory R&D contribution of US$2 per tonne of marine fuel purchase for consumption by shipping companies worldwide.

ICS secretary general Guy Platten said shipping had to act.

“We must not leave it to others to carry the burden of addressing the climate crisis,” Mr Platten said.

“Nor will we ask others to decide the future of maritime. We embrace our responsibility, and we ask the world’s governments to support our efforts.”

ICS deputy secretary general Simon Bennett said conservative estimates for trade growth indicated a 50% total cut in CO2 by 2050 only could be achieved by improving carbon efficiency of the world fleet by about 90%.

“This will only be possible if a large proportion of the fleet is using commercially viable zero-carbon fuels,” Mr Bennett said.

Angela Gillham from MIAL. Credit: MIAL

“In practice, if the 50% target is achieved, with a large proportion of the fleet using zero-carbon fuels by 2050, the entire world fleet would also be using these fuels very shortly after, making 100% decarbonisation possible – which is the industry’s goal.                                                          

“$2 a tonne will generate about US$5bn over a ten year period – based on total fuel consumption by the world fleet of about 250m tonnes a year – which we believe should be sufficient to accelerate the intensive R&D effort we need to fully decarbonise our sector within the ambitious timeline agreed by IMO.”

Maritime Industry Australia deputy CEO Angela Gillham said the R&D fund represented a great opportunity for Australia.

“With our natural potential for the development of low and zero carbon fuels, it will be very interesting to see how the Australian energy industry will capitalise on these advantages and play a role in the shipping industry’s energy transition by accessing the R&D fund,” Ms Gillham said.

“To achieve the International Maritime Organizations ambitious goal to reduce GHG emissions from shipping by 50% by 2050, rapid decarbonisation is vital,” she said.

“The move will provide funding to much needed advances in maritime innovation and technology, to help develop the zero-emission solutions of the future that shipping sorely needs.”