Government sets out 2050 zero-emission strategy for shipping

The Department of Transport (DfT) published the first-ever maritime strategy yesterday (January 24), which details their vision of a zero-emission shipping industry by 2050.

Regulation has historically been set at the international level with such as the 1997 introduction of the North Sea Emission Control Area (ECA) and the agreement of a global sulphur cap to be implemented by 2020.

However, the Government is now considering introducing targets to drive down emissions of GHGs and other air pollutants from UK shipping as ‘the volume of global trade increases.’

They also say they hope to have a group of hydrogen or ammonia powered domestic vessels in operation and at least one major ‘smart port’ in the UK to have all ship-side activity zero emission (including non-road mobile machinery like cranes).

There will also be fresh investment into maritime infrastructure, aimed at promoting the uptake of carbon-neutral fuels and the generation of renewable energy such as using biomass or rotor sails.

The DfT will consider whether and how the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) could be used to encourage the uptake of low carbon fuels in maritime, taking the availability of sustainable resources, competing uses and the ‘international character’ of the maritime sector into consideration.

Ministers will also review the existing legislative framework around shipping, including the provision of primary powers, to ensure that the UK has the flexibility to respond to public concerns in relation to pollution from the maritime sector.

Writing in the report’s introduction, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: ‘Government is committed to working with industry and the wider sector to deliver on our Maritime 2050 commitments and in the development of the route maps.’

‘Together we can encourage innovation and investment, collectively shaping and ensuring the success of our UK maritime sector for generations to come.’

The strategy was welcomed by Dr Jenifer Baxter, head of engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

She said: ‘Shipping currently contributes about 2% of global CO2 emissions and this is expected to grow as other sectors reduce their emissions.

‘Improving the fuels and propulsion systems used in shipping will reduce air pollution and the impact shipping has on the oceans.’

‘Smart Ports and the use of data in shipping will improve efficiencies in the transportation of goods and encourage better connections between activities at sea and on land. To achieve this successfully there must be collaborative regulation from all regulators involved.’

Read the full Maritime 2050 Strategy here.