For global shipping, it ain’t easy going green

By Scoop
July 13, 2022 · less than 3 min read

It’s a big old carbon footprint to reduce – and a lack of the right fuel isn’t helping.

Decarbonization for the nation

Here’s the rub: The shipping industry is responsible for nearly 3% of the world’s emissions. So the pressure’s on for major companies to go green. But there’s a problem: there’s a shortage of the correct fuel.

Danish company Maersk, the largest shipping container firm in the world, has big plans to go carbon neutral as soon as 2023. And with 13 new Hyundai ships on order, things are looking rosy; but they run on green methanol. And there’s not enough green methanol to go around.

Chicken and egg

Getting enough green fuel to make a meaningful reduction in carbon footprint is a problem that’s likely to face the wider industry if Maersk is already struggling. The firm plans to have all 13 ships running on green fuels by 2026 at the latest as part of its wider aim of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. But, according to Morten Bo Christiansen, Maersk’s head of decarbonization, it’s a “chicken and egg type situation” for the firm.

“The vessels will arrive prior to the fuels, which is of course not ideal quite frankly,” he said. “One of the points of ordering the vessels was actually to put a demand signal in the market so that the fuel production will start.”

In the interim, these global shipping firms may have to use fossil fuels to operate their new ships, marking a real sidestep in their decarbonization goals. The hope is that the ‘demand signals’ for green fuel have finally been picked up. Otherwise, those far-off aims of net-zero are going to come around all too quickly.

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