New study on shipping’s decarbonisation is a wake-up call, says MAN ES CEO

by 21, Apr, 2021Innovation, Maritime 4.00 comments

According to the results of the #AHOY2050 future study, drafted by MAN Energy Solutions and the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI), banning fossil fuels in the shipping industry could become a necessary step in the latter half of the decade.

The study outlines four scenarios that explore how to reach the maritime industry’s climate targets by 2050, but also consider the failure to do so. The scenarios, referred to as:

A – the IMO objectives are achieved within the target time frame. A big step towards a carbon-neutral future has been taken.

H – climate change policy continues to be supported by a limited number of countries only. The shipping industry fails to reach IMO climate targets.

O – the IMO objectives fail. The decarbonisation of shipping and the reduction of GHGs cannot be systematically implemented.

Y – the strong climate policy targets from the UNFCCC and the IMO objectives have been more than achieved by 2050. Low-carbon technologies for shipping become state of the art.

For a full overview of the scenarios, please see page 5 of the #AHOY2050 study.

“The maritime industry currently has a goal, but not yet a way to get there,” said Dr Uwe Lauber, CEO of MAN Energy Solutions. “By 2050, the International Maritime Organization wants greenhouse-gas emissions to fall by 50 per cent, however these targets have not yet been backed up by concrete measures.” According to Dr Lauber: “Time is pressing – 2050 is just a single ship-generation away.”

MAN Energy Solutions sees the study as a wake-up call. “With shipping, everyone always talks about the technical side. Technically, however, the maritime energy transition has long been feasible. For years, the challenge has been at the political and an overall, societal level,” said Dr Lauber, summing up the situation. “Today, we can build engines that run on zero-emission fuels, but making the decision to ramp up synthetic fuels in the market is not something we can do alone.”

#AHOY2050 approaches shipping as part of a global ecosystem. Beginning with societal awareness of the problem and the importance of climate protection – and extending it to commodity prices, global economic development and COVID-19 – a multitude of factors impact global shipping. Dr Lauber said: “It is these interrelationships that will largely determine how resolutely the maritime energy transition is pursued.”

#AHOY2050 gathers voices from the industry and beyond. For the qualitative part, the Fraunhofer Institute interviewed some 40 experts from all areas of the maritime industry, but also from associations, science and politics. Over 30 industry experts subsequently discussed the scenarios drafted on this basis in a workshop.
#AHOY2050: four future scenarios.

The study indicates that if left to market forces, the shipping industry could persist in a self-optimisation mode where the focus would then be on further maximising efficiency with no real change taking place. A regulatory framework supported by social consensus, on the other hand, could trigger not only such a technological change, but also a boom in shipping as a result. A complete ban on fossil fuels in the second half of the decade could significantly promote such a development, according to the study.

In Dr Lauber’s view, a clear political course and global regulation are the key parameters for a successful maritime energy transition: “If the world becomes entangled in selfish interests, we will not achieve a climate turnaround. In contrast, a smartly-set, global, regulatory framework can turn the decarbonisation of shipping into a growth engine for the industry. After all, if the global supply chain is consistently geared toward climate protection, ships are far superior to all other modes of transport.”

Click here to download the study.

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