Maersk pledges to cut CO2 emissions to zero by 2050, without use of offsets which just “delay the pain”
Global aviation and global shipping are two sectors with immense carbon emissions, not properly controlled by any one country. Shipping currently accounts for about 2-3% of global CO2 emissions, and if the sector does not cut fuel burned, this could to 20% of global emissions by 2050. Now the world’s largest container shipping company has “pledged” to cut net CO2 emissions to zero by 2050. It is challenging an industry that is one of the main transporters of global trade and one of the biggest carbon emitters to come up with radical solutions in the next decade. It hopes to make new ships “carbon free” by 2030. The CEO of Maersk, Mr Toft, said: “We will have to abandon fossil fuels. We will have to find a different type of fuel or a different way to power our assets.” But what is suggested is perhaps biofuels, hydrogen, electricity, wind or solar power. It would be a catastrophe for the natural world if shipping also tries to get hold of biofuels (as well as electricity generation, and aviation) with forests and natural habitats for wildlife devastated. Maersk is aiming to meet its target without buying carbon offsets. Mr Toft said: “If you buy offsets, you are basically delaying the pain. What you are doing is buying yourself an excuse and hoping that the money you pay goes to good uses, but you are not tackling the issue at its core.”
Maersk pledges to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050
World’s largest container shipping group throws down challenge to industry
Container ships currently use bunker fuel, a residue from crude oil that is cheaper but dirtier than petrol and diesel
Richard Milne, Nordic Correspondent (FT)
The world’s largest container shipping company has pledged to cut net carbon emissions to zero by 2050, challenging an industry that is both one of the main transporters of global trade and one of the biggest polluters to come up with radical solutions in the next decade.
AP Moller Maersk, the Danish group that transports nearly one in five seaborne containers, said it needed its entire supply chain from engine makers and shipbuilders to new technology providers to come up with carbon-free ships by 2030 to meet the goal.
“We will have to abandon fossil fuels. We will have to find a different type of fuel or a different way to power our assets. This is not just another cost-cutting exercise. It’s far from that. It’s an existential exercise, where we as a company need to set ourselves apart,” Soren Toft, Maersk’s chief operating officer, told the Financial Times.
Maersk’s target, although distant, is one of the most ambitious from a global industrial group promising to end carbon emissions altogether. Container ships carry about 80 per cent of global trade and currently use bunker fuel, a residue from crude oil that is cheaper but dirtier than petrol and diesel, which means they contribute about 3 per cent of the world’s emissions.
Maersk is not pushing one technology — ideas such as biofuels, hydrogen, electricity or even wind or solar power have been mooted — but is stressing the urgency as most vessels have a life of 20-25 years, meaning that viable solutions need to be found soon.
“To reach the target by 2050, in the next 10 years we need some big breakthroughs,” Mr Toft said.
Maersk is aiming to meet its target without buying carbon offsets. “If you buy offsets, you are basically delaying the pain. What you are doing is buying yourself an excuse and hoping that the money you pay goes to good uses, but you are not tackling the issue at its core,” Mr Toft said.
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Some comments from campaigners / experts working in this field:
EU28 could hardly resolve biofuels sustainability criteria for road biofuels and had to settle for a blunt tool to cap the mandate. How could 190 IMO countries agree on a sustainability criteria with food-based bio-feedstock producers (Argentina, Brazil, US, Indonesia, Malaysia, Liberia, etc.) calling the policy shots?
There is also a concern that Maersk has done this as a media stunt to recover the image after being accused in national and international media of dragging their feet on immediate GHG reduction measures. So this needs to be looked at very sceptically.
it’s important to understand that from the perspective of the atmosphere, fuels that reduce emissions over the lifecycle of the fuel are….offsets.
That is, if what’s coming out of the smokestack of the ship is CO2, just as if the ship were burning fossil fuel, then the reductions the ship is counting in terms of its goal of zero carbon are reductions that are happening in the countries where the ship’s fuel is being produced.
Those are…offsets. That is why it’s so important to ensure corresponding adjustments for transfers of those from the fuel-producing countries to the world of international shipping. Otherwise the accounting for them is one-way, like the current CDM.
The overall Maersk announcement is certainly something to celebrate – but important to be able to answer questions about where the fuels come from, what their lifecycle emissions are (and other sustainability aspects) and how they are accounted for, to know how much to celebrate.
Carbon emissions from global shipping to be halved by 2050, says IMO
‘The world’s shipping industry has now, for the first time, defined its commitment to tackle climate change’
Josh Gabbatiss Science Correspondent @josh_gabbatiss (Independent)
Friday 13 April 2018
Announcement calls for greenhouse gas emissions to be slashed by ‘at least’ 50 per cent – meaning cuts could go much further
Announcement calls for greenhouse gas emissions to be slashed by ‘at least’ 50 per cent – meaning cuts could go much further ( Reuters )
Carbon emissions from the global shipping industry will be cut by at least half by 2050 under a major new international agreement.
Representatives from over 170 countries have spent two weeks at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in London debating ways to clean up the sector.
Despite opposition from nations including Brazil, Saudi Arabia and the US, the states came to a final agreement on Friday, signalling to industry that a switch away from fossil fuels is fast approaching.
Ultimately the goal is for shipping’s greenhouse gas emission to be reduced to zero by the middle of the century, with most newly built ships running without fossil fuels by the 2030s.
“Like Apollo 11 returning to Earth we knew we needed to land and we did,” said Sveinung Oftedal, chair of greenhouse gas negotiations at the IMO.
Pollution from ships is a major concern, but one that has been largely overlooked in recent years.
One estimate by the International Council on Clean Transportation found that if treated as a country, international shipping would be the sixth largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world – roughly the same as Germany.
Shipping currently accounts for 2 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions, and if the sector is not cleaned up experts predict this figure could rise to a fifth of emissions by 2050.
Despite its major role in polluting the planet, shipping was not accounted for in the Paris agreement on climate change.
Mounting pressure has grown on the IMO to come up with a solution to this problem, as it was tasked with limiting and reducing emissions from shipping under the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.
“The International Maritime Organisation’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases by 50 to 100 per cent in 2050 is major progress,” said Dr Tristan Smith, a shipping expert at University College London.
“The world’s shipping industry has now, for the first time, defined its commitment to tackle climate change, bringing it closer in-line with the Paris agreement.”
The UK government was supportive of the more ambitious end of the targets proposed, pushing for global shipping to abandon fossil fuels entirely within three decades.
However, there has been pushback from nations that fear rapid changes to the shipping sector will damage their economies.
The new announcement calls for greenhouse gas emissions to be slashed by “at least” 50 per cent – wording that is meant to imply anywhere between 50 and 100 per cent.
This is intended to appease Pacific Island states delegations. The London talks have had particular significance for Pacific islanders, whose countries are imminently threatened by rising sea levels.
At the outset of the meeting, Marshall Islands environment minister David Paul laid out his concerns about the threats facing his country.
“The next days in IMO will determine whether Marshallese children born today will have the chance of a secure and prosperous life or will have to leave the land of their ancestors and set sail across the oceans to an uncertain future,” he said.
“This is scientific fact.”
The Marshall Islands – a tiny group of atolls in Micronesia – are home to around 70,000 people, and experts predict under future climate scenarios it is likely they will all have to be evacuated as the sea levels rise.
In a joint statement released before Friday’s announcement, Mr Paul and former UN chief negotiator on climate change, Christiana Figueres, said the strategy represented “significant compromises by countries – not least by vulnerable island nations which had been pushing for something far more ambitious”.
“To get to this point has been hard – very hard,” they said.
The new targets are expected to have a significant impact on the shipping industry.
“A 50 per cent reduction in outright greenhouse gas emissions means most new ships built in the 2030s will have to be zero emission,” said Dr Faig Abbasov, shipping policy expert with the Brussels-based NGO Transport and Environment.
However, an intervention early in the talks by the International Chamber of Shipping – the leading industry association – made it clear they would support reductions in carbon emissions from the sector.
Commentators noted that support from industry reduced the credibility of nations arguing that proposed reduction targets were unrealistic.
“The 2050 goal is achievable. We have in the pipeline some new builds that will use fuel cells,” said Olof Widen, senior advisor at the Finnish Shipowner’s Association.
“When we have a critical mass of these solutions, then we will have a very rapid development.”