Green Shipping: White Paper Outlines How Shipping Can Go Green
According to the document released by Trafigura in May of this year, green shipping is possible; emissions can be curtailed significantly by using green-hydrogen-based fuels.
Our Lives Rely on Maritime Goods Transport
Commercial maritime trade worldwide has become a bedrock component of how we live our lives. Without it, we wouldn’t have the clothes we wear, the computers we work on, or the plethora of other commodities we enjoy.
It’s hard to understate how important it is, so it’s even more important to address the staggering amount of emissions the maritime industry puts out annually.
In 2018, the maritime shipping industry was responsible for 3% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, with that figure expected to increase to 10% by 2050 if no action is taken. Green shipping is not only wanted; it is a big part of decarbonization.
However, action is being taken, with various shipping companies dedicated to decarbonization. One of these companies is Trafigura, which has released a white paper indicating its interest in transitioning to hydrogen-based fuels for its ships.
Why is the Change so Important?
The main reason the maritime industry is so bad for the environment is the fuel it uses. In the processing of petroleum fuel, there are three main tiers.
The first is the most refined, burning cleaner, but it requires many chemical processes to refine. This would be the tier that jet fuel sits in.
The second tier is your everyday gasoline and diesel. While still refined, it is less so than jet fuel, so it outputs more particulate matter into the environment due to its lack of high refinement.
At the bottom of this hierarchy is fuel oil, or bunker fuel. This stuff is basically one step up from the crude oil they take out of the ground itself and is barely refined, meaning it’s very cheap but very dirty.
This fuel is what the maritime industry lives on, and they run these engines while in port to keep the lights on and the fridges running, making these ships partially responsible for all the smog found in cities like Las Angeles.
Trafigura, one of the largest shipping organizations in the world responsible for 5,000 voyages a year and with 360 ships under management, has released this white paper discussing how the shipping industry could decarbonize by 27%, in line with the Paris Agreement.
The key to green shipping is using green hydrogen-based fuels, green methanol and green ammonia. Green shipping can be used in areas with abundant renewable energy sources, where clean hydrogen can be created.
“With the right policy settings, we see large potential for producing two of these fuels – green ammonia and green methanol – in countries with access to abundant solar energy, wind power, and land.” the White Paper said.
See also: Green Hydrogen; The Future of Clean Shipping.
All or Nothing for the Maritime Industry
This shift cannot happen without coordination and consensus within the green shipping industry. Trafigura calls upon the International Maritime Organization to help set guidelines and regulations on using clean fuel.
With the support of regulatory bodies, the maritime industry can significantly curtail the amount of emissions put out into the atmosphere. However, there is still a long road or rather long shipping lane to full decarbonization.
In the shipping industry, ports are still lagging in decarbonizing their machines and infrastructure to load on and offload containers.
However, with tangible measures taken by leading companies in the transition to clean energy, there is hope that our goods and products can be delivered by green shipping – in a good way for the environment.