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Shipowner bodies urge IMO to back $5bn decarbonisation R&D fund

Ahead of a Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting of the International Maritime Organisation this week, eight international shipowner associations including Cruise Lines International Association are calling on IMO member states to support the industry’s idea of a $5bn R&D fund to aid the decarbonisation of maritime transport.

To be managed through a nongovernmental International Maritime Research and Development Board (IMRB), the fund would seek to help identify and develop new technologies needed to allow commercially viable zero-carbon ships to begin operations as early as in the 2030s.

The 10-year programme would be overseen by IMO and financed by the shipping industry through a required R&D contribution of $2 per tonne of marine fuel consumed.

Kelly Craighead, president and CEO of CLIA said, ‘The industry continues to look well beyond 2020 and is dedicated to working collaboratively across the sector to identify the new technologies and energy sources that will enable us to reach IMO’s ultimate goal of zero-carbon emissions across the maritime fleet.’

Potential solutions

There are several potential solutions, such as hydrogen or ammonia produced from renewable energy sources, but these do not yet exist in a scale or form that can be applied to large ocean-going ships. A host of complex technical questions remain to be answered, including safety, storage, distribution, energy density considerations and lifecycle impacts.

‘We have to be open about the full spectrum of ideas that are available which can be explored through this R&D programme,’ commented Donnie Brown, VP maritime policy CLIA at a media briefing on Friday.

Shipowner bodies

The shipowner bodies making the joint proposal are Bimco, CLIA, ICS, Intercargo, Interferry, Intertanko, IPTA and the World Shipping Council — collectively representing some 90% of the world merchant fleet across all trades and sectors.

The co-sponsors emphasise that ‘for the proposal to work, the R&D contributions would need to be compulsory via an IMO regulation, to ensure that all shipping companies globally contribute, in a fair and equitable manner, and that the necessary funds will be generated to achieve the programme’s objectives.’

They further add that the shipping industry is ‘eager to work with governments to ensure that this initiative is implemented as soon as possible,’ and therefore call on the IMO MEPC to support the development of the IMRB concept at what they dub its ‘critical’ meeting starting Monday.


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