The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted a very ambitious goal of cutting GHG emissions from shipping in half by 2050, even as cargo demand is expected to grow, and taking those emissions to zero by the end of this century.
To achieve these objectives, the World Shipping Council (WSC) proposes to set up an international research and development entity through the IMO to direct and fund the necessary R&D efforts. The WSC propose to call this entity the International Maritime Research Board, or IMRB.
John Butler, President and CEO of the World Shipping Council, said: “Until now, regulations and voluntary industry measures have focused on making our fossil-fuel-based fleets more efficient, and a lot of progress has been made, with per-unit efficiency increasing dramatically over the past ten years.
“As encouraging as that progress is, the plain fact is that we will not cut greenhouse gas emissions in half or eliminate them altogether so long as we are burning fossil fuels.
“If we are to meet those objectives, and we must, then we have to identify and deploy a new generation of fuels.
“If the IMO adopts this approach, the IMRB would be a dedicated-purpose new entity under the supervision of the IMO, with substantial industry participation.
“The IMRB would be funded by mandatory industry contributions based on fuel use, which is something that the IMO already tracks.
“The money collected would be used to fund research that could be carried out by a wide range of entities around the globe, ranging from research institutions to national laboratories to independent institutions and companies.
“In addition to some basic science, the emphasis would be on evaluating which technologies have the greatest potential to be commercially feasible for powering long ocean voyages, and then doing the engineering work to get those fuels and technologies to the point whether they can be commercially viable.”
One of the reasons for creating the IMRB is that it is simply not feasible for any one company or any one country to provide the resources and focus that are necessary to meet the IMO’s greenhouse gas emissions reductions for 2050 and beyond.
“One of the fundamental characteristics of the IMRB is that it would be designed to work itself out of a job and out of existence.
“That reflects the fact that the whole idea of the IMRB is to solve the root problem of greenhouse gas emissions by finding and deploying new fuels, not simply looking for further efficiencies from existing fossil-fuel-based systems.”