New platform, First Movers Coalition, launches 2030 commitments to zero-emission maritime shipping

On November 4, the World Economic Forum, in partnership with US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, announced the First Movers Coalition, a new platform for companies to make purchasing commitments that create new market demand for low and zero carbon fuels and technologies. 

Specifically, for maritime carriers, at least 5% of deep-sea shipping will be powered by zero-emission fuels by 2030. The importance of a 2030 “breakthrough” target has been established: an S-curve based analysis suggests that zero emission fuels need to make up 5% of the international shipping fuel mix by 2030 to enable Paris-aligned decarbonization of shipping by 2050, as highlighted in a recent insight brief from the Global Maritime Forum, University College London, and UNFCCC High Level Climate Champions.

For cargo owners, at least 10% of the volume of goods shipped internationally will be on ships using zero-emission fuels by 2030; on the way to 100% by 2040, a target that is in line with the recently announced Cargo Owners for Zero Emission Vessels initiative.

Significantly, to qualify under First Movers Coalition commitments as being zero emission, fuels must meet the following criteria:

• have zero greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis,

• be sufficiently scalable to decarbonize the entire shipping industry when blended or used as standalones, 

• address land use and other sustainability concerns, and

• demonstrate they can be used safely through appropriate training and standards.

The aim is to catalyze adoption of new zero-emission fuels and technologies deemed necessary for full sector decarbonization by 2050. Leading analysis identifies that this goal is most likely to be accomplished with hydrogen-based fuels.

Ingrid Irigoyen, Director of the Aspen Institute Shipping Decarbonization Initiative, said: “The First Movers Coalition shipping commitments are consistent with the ambition of the Paris Agreement and fully aligned with the 2040 target and zero-carbon fuel criteria set recently by Cargo Owners for Zero Emission Vessels. 

“We must remember that these new fuels are not yet in commercial use for deep sea shipping, and entire new supply chains need to be built, making these forward-looking commitments truly commendable. We congratulate these corporate climate leaders for demonstrating the power of collective private sector action to decarbonize shipping here at COP26. 

“The cargo owner ambition continues to show the vital role that climate leading multinational companies play in driving this transition.”

Johannah Christensen, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Maritime Forum, said: “By aggregating demand, the First Movers Coalition will drive the uptake of new zero emission technologies and fuels in shipping. A first step is implementation of industrial scale demonstration projects and green corridors to ensure safety, reliability, and sustainability of new technologies across the full value chain. Only with such collaborative efforts can we make zero emission shipping the default choice by 2030.” 

Dr. Tristan Smith, Associate Professor at University College London Energy Institute and Director at UMAS, said: “We have left GHG reductions so late that if we delay investment until policy solutions at the IMO are implemented, global trade risks a late and disruptive transition. 

“First Movers Coalition builds on the approach by Cargo Owners for Zero Emission Vessels and the Sea Cargo Charter by mobilizing the customers of shipping to take responsibility for their maritime emissions – motivated also by the risks of disruption to their supply chains if we get this wrong. This is already making business cases for investment in the long-run hydrogen-based solutions this sector needs, and prepares shipping’s transition for the forthcoming implementation of IMO policies that can then further scale their deployment,” 

These new shipping commitments are aligned with and developed in collaboration with the Getting to Zero Coalition—a partnership between the Global Maritime Forum, the World Economic Forum and the Friends of Ocean Action. University College London Energy Institute, including through UMAS, provided technical analysis in support of these existing efforts, as well as the new First Movers Coalition.

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