The hydrogen-powered ship "Energy Observer" is sailing on the Elbe in Germany. Credit: Bodo Marks/picture alliance via Getty Images This article is the sixth part of a Financial Times series examining whether hydrogen can help cut emissions across industries from transport to construction The Compagnie Belge Maritime du Congo launched its first steam-powered ship, the SS Leopold, on its maiden trip from Antwerp to Congo in 1895. Today CMB, the colonial-era group’s successor, carries commuters between the Belgian city and nearby Kruibeke on a ferry fueled by hydrogen. “This is the fourth energy revolution in shipping—from rowing our boats to sails to steam engine to diesel engine and we have to change it once more,” said Alex Saverys, CMB chief executive and scion of one of Belgium’s oldest shipping families. Shipping produces about 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and without action its contribution is likely to rise for decades as global trade grows. The International Maritime Organization, the UN agency that regulates the global industry, wants to at least halve its impact by 2050. Many industry figures are pinning their hopes on blue or green hydrogen—produced using natural gas with carbon capture or renewable electricity and whose […]

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