A number of countries are backing the shipping industry’s call for a $5bn R&D fund to help decarbonise the sector – a bid to hold off regulators such as the European Union from making their own emissions plans.
The much discussed proposal – dubbed shipping’s decarbonisation moonshot – was officially submitted to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) yesterday, backed by member states including Greece, Japan, Liberia and Singapore.
The so-called IMO Maritime Research Fund would take mandatory contributions from the world’s shipping companies, working out at roughly $2 per tonne of bunker fuel, to support a new International Maritime Research and Development Board (IMRB) to commission collaborative programmes for the applied research and development R&D of zero-carbon maritime technologies, including development of working prototypes. It will also assist CO2 reduction projects in developing countries, including Pacific island nations.
The proposal is backed by all the major global shipping associations who are lobbying hard to get it ratified at the next gathering of IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) later this year.
“Decarbonisation can only take place with a significant acceleration of R&D, as zero-carbon technologies do not yet exist that can be applied at scale to large ocean-going ships. A well-funded R&D programme, which the industry has agreed to pay for within a global regulatory framework, needs to commence immediately under the supervision of the UN IMO,” a joint press release from nine of the world’s top global shipping organisations claimed yesterday.
A number of environmental groups have lambasted the proposal, saying the $5bn figure is too small.
Shipping is increasingly facing up to the real possibility of regional environmental legislation leaping ahead of the IMO, which hitherto has served as the industry’s global regulator. Carbon levies have been hotly discussed in recent months. The industry is likely to be included in Europe’s emissions trading scheme, with the US and China looking at similar schemes.