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This week, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) issued a “Code Red for Humanity” citing that impacts from human activity are exceeding the limits set in 2015 for temperature increases. “Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades” cited the report. This indicates that the pressure will be increasing on industry to limit its emissions, adding fuel to an already burning fire.
It isn’t that shipping hasn’t been working to address its emissions. We have been working for years to overcome the challenges of a global industry utilizing capital intensive assets trying to pivot towards technologies that are still in their nascent stages. Further, it seems as though once a particular strategy begins to gain traction, we find its weaknesses, like LNG and methane slip.
Nevertheless, we don’t have the luxury of time and must take action while we wait for the development of alternatives, such as hydrogen and nuclear, to become applicable to shipping. Fuel additives that improve combustion, for instance, are a tool to reduce emissions as are digital assets that maximize fuel utilization and improve routing and speed efficiencies.
Further, we need to harmonize our approach. Yes, we are historically a highly fragmented industry, but with the need for infrastructure support and operational standardization, it is important to coalesce around a minimal number of solutions.
COP 26 is approaching in Glasgow where one of the focal points will be shipping. It will not be a recognition that shipping is the engine of global trade but will rather be critical of the emissions coming from that engine. It is vital that we demonstrate that we are taking action NOW as we harmonize our approach to the future.