Shipping industry backs UN US$5 billion decarbonization program

Responding to the UN Secretary-General’s call for “urgency and ambition” on climate change, the entire global shipping industry is giving “full and unequivocal” backing to a moon-shot proposal submitted by governments, to catalyze the complete decarbonization of maritime transport by deployment at scale of zero-carbon ships within a decade.

The proposal, being submitted by governments controlling a major share of the world’s shipping tonnage to the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) is to establish a $5 billion “IMO Maritime Research Fund” using mandatory contributions from the world’s shipping companies.

This new $5 billion Fund will support a new International Maritime Research and Development Board (IMRB) to commission collaborative program for the applied research and development R&D of zero-carbon technologies, specifically tailored for maritime application, including development of working prototypes. It will also assist CO2 reduction projects in developing countries, including Pacific island nations.

The shipping industry is urging all governments to approve this mature moon-shot proposal – led by major shipping nations including Georgia, Greece, Japan, Liberia, Malta, Nigeria, Singapore, Switzerland – at a critical IMO meeting in London in November 2021, which will coincide with the next UN Climate Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow. 

This is the only fully detailed proposal available to deliver the speed and scale called for by UN Secretary-General, António Guterres. Failure by UN member states to support this initiative could significantly set back progress towards the decarbonization of shipping.

Decarbonization can only take place with a significant acceleration of R&D, as zero-carbon technologies do not yet exist that can be applied at scale to large ocean-going ships. A well-funded R&D program, which the industry has agreed to pay for within a global regulatory framework, needs to commence immediately under the supervision of the UN IMO.

Recognizing the urgency and ambition required to decarbonize, shipping industry groups are calling for all governments to be on the right side of history in supporting this ambitious proposal.

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