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Shipowners propose US$5 billion R&D plan to cut emissions

A group of international shipowners associations has submitted a proposal to form the world’s first collaborative shipping R&D programme to eliminate CO2 emissions from international shipping.  The proposal includes core funding from shipping companies across the world of about US$5 billion over a 10-year period.

The associations making this proposal, which collectively represent all sectors and trades and over 90% of the world merchant fleet, are

  • BIMCO
  • CRUISE LINES INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION
  • INTERCARGO
  • INTERFERRY
  • INTERNATIONAL CHAMBER OF SHIPPING
  • INTERTANKO
  • INTERNATIONAL PARCEL TANKERS ASSOCIATION
  • WORLD SHIPPING COUNCIL

They are proposing  the establishment of an International Maritime Research and Development Board (IMRB), a non-governmental R&D organisation that would be overseen by IMO Member States.  The IMRB will be  financed by shipping companies worldwide via a mandatory R&D contribution of US$ 2 per tonne of marine fuel purchased for consumption by shipping companies worldwide, which will generate about US$5 billion in core funding over a 10-year period.

This US$5 billion in core funding over a 10-year period generated from the contributions is critical to accelerate the R&D effort required to decarbonise the shipping sector and to catalyse the deployment of commercially viable zero-carbon ships by the early 2030s.  The proposal has set out details for governance and funding of the coordinated R&D programme, which can be put in place by 2023  via amendments to the ​​​existing IMO Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).

The industry-wide move to accelerate R&D is necessary to ensure the ambitious COreduction targets agreed to by IMO Member States in 2018 are met.  These ambitious IMO targets include  an absolute cut in the sector’s total greenhouse gas emissions of at least 50 percent by 2050, regardless of trade growth, with full decarbonisation shortly after.

The 2050 target will require a carbon efficiency improvement of up to 90 percent, which is incompatible with a continued long-term use of fossil fuels by commercial shipping.  The proposal will be discussed by governments in London at the next meeting of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee in March 2020.

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