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UN told shipping’s decarbonisation will take place on land

Shipping’s brave new zero emissions world will be achieved on land, not at sea, top names attending the UN Climate Action Summit in New York told a press conference yesterday.

More than 70 signatories – including the likes of Maersk, Shell, Cargill and Trafigura – came together yesterday, vowing to get commercially viable zero emission vessels operating on deepsea routes by 2030.

The Getting to Zero Coalition has been lauded as an inspiration for other forms of transport to follow.

Speaking at a press conference at UN headquarters yesterday, Jeppe Kofod, Denmark’s minister for foreign affairs, said shipping needed leadership and partnership if it was to decarbonise, with greater pressure coming for shoreside infrastructure to up its game.

“On shipping it’s 20% of the emissions on ships themselves, but the whole industry – the ports, and networks and infrastructure – account for 80%, so we need to link these things in a public/private partnership,” Kofod said, going on to say that shipping can show the way for other forms of transportation in how to decarbonise.

Echoing the minister, Soren Toft, chairman of Maersk Container Industries, said: “In order for shipping to be relevant in the medium to long term shipping must find ways to decarbonise itself but shipping cannot do this itself, shipping must work with all shareholders in the value chain.” Toft said it was vital shipping works with upstream partners and ports to make zero carbon shipping a reality.

Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of Antwerp Port Authority, was up next in the press conference, and he too conceded that much of the weight of the decarbonisation challenges stood on the shoulders of the ports sector.

“The decarbonisation of the shipping industry will take place on land. We will have to build the necessary infrastructure,” Vandermeiren said, stressing that it was vital for all shipping-related parties to be alligned.

Rachel Kyte, CEO of UN-backed Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), concluded the conference by suggesting other forms of transport could take inspiration from this new shipping coalition “slingshot of ambition” way to decarbonise.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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