A roadmap to decarbonising Europe’s shipping

A report by the green NGO Transport & Environment assesses potential technology pathways for decarbonising EU related shipping

Shipping is one of the largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting sectors of the global economy, responsible for around 1 Gt of CO2eq every year. If shipping were a country, it would be the 6th biggest emitter. EU shipping is responsible for around 20% of global ship GHG emissions, emitting on average 200 Mt/year.

A report by Transport & Environment assesses potential technology pathways for decarbonising EU related shipping through a shift to zero carbon technologies and the impact such a move could have on renewable electricity demand in Europe. It also identifies key policy and sustainability issues that should be considered when analysing and supporting different technology options to decarbonise the maritime sector.

It concludes that battery-powered ships offer the most efficient and immediate solution to reducing shipping’s GHG emissions for shorter distances. For longer journeys, liquid hydrogen and liquid ammonia made with zero-emission electricity will be needed.

How much more electricity is needed?

Powering ships calling at EU ports with a combination of these three options will require around 25% more energy between 2015 and 2050, but the electricity needed to produce enough synthetic diesel and methane would be around 50% more.

Faig Abbasov, T&E’s shipping officer, said: ‘Shipping is the neglected stepchild of EU climate policy. We need progress at international level coupled with practical steps in Europe. Those practical steps must avoid wasting lots of time and money on solutions that can’t deliver shipping decarbonisation, notably biofuels which are unsuitable for shipping.’

Monitoring, reporting and verifying CO2 emissions

On 4 February 2019 the European Commission adopted a proposal to revise the EU system for monitoring, reporting and verification of CO2 emissions from maritime transport. This will help to take appropriate account of the global data collection system for fuel oil consumption of ships established by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

Publishing data on all ships will allow shipping customers to identify the most efficient ships, make fuel savings and thereby reduce CO2 emissions. The transparency of the EU system, unlike the IMO’s data collection system (DCS), will prevent dirty ships to pass themselves off as efficient.

Faig Abbasov said: “Shippers need to be able to identify the most efficient ships to cut their fuel costs and climate impact. The EU’s system provides this high quality data which will also influence the ambition and the effectiveness of climate measures in the shipping sector. Without accurate data collection, the reduction measures won’t be worth the paper they are written on.”

Download the report

Download Roadmap to Decarbonising Europe’s shipping

Further reading

Some solutions being currently implemented to decarbonise shipping

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