This Fall will be a pivotal time for the maritime industry as we stand squarely in the crosshairs of the decarbonization debate. Heretofore, we have been given a pass on the basis of our international composition transcending national boundaries. If we self-regulated and demonstrated an intentional decline in our emissions production, commensurate with the goals of the Paris Accord, we would be able to continue our ability to stay under the radar.
Unfortunately, size matters. Despite our good intentions, we are still one of the largest emitters of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) equivalent to the country of Germany. And while reporting is starting to acknowledge our contribution to global society in our delivery of 90% of the world’s goods and energy, the climate impacts of industrial activity, including shipping, has reached a tipping point so every rock is being turned in order to reduce our impacts.
Shipping has spent the last few years searching for options to lessen our impacts. Projects are underway in many areas searching for the holy grail for shipping. So far, not only have we not found the “silver bullet”, but it seems as though any time one solution gains traction, it is brought down. We have watched this over the past few months with LNG, with its supporters and detractors, and now with hydrogen.
It is important that we move forward with our eyes wide open, knowing the risks and rewards facing us. We need to demonstrate to global society that we are sincerely searching for options to decarbonize, and get a critical amount of support for that option, in a relatively compressed timeframe. It is important to be open to new applications, as well as be wary of “solutions” that will not serve us well in the long haul.