Addressing the Delivery of Net Zero by 2050

In October, the Bahamas Shipowners Association (BSA) hosted its industry forum. Featuring a number of maritime experts,the forum ran with a theme of ‘Carbon Free or Net Zero Carbon’.

John Adams, Chairman of the BSA, led the discussion among a star panel which included Guy Platten, Secretary General, ICS; Katharine Palmer, Shipping Lead at COP26; Faïg Abbasov, Shipping Director, Transport & Environment; and Kathy Metcalf, President and CEO, Chamber of Shipping of America.

In 2020, John led a proposal to cut emissions with a $5 billion research and development (R&D) fund, aimed at accelerating the development of commercially viable zero-carbon emission ships by the early 2030s. October’s BSA forum was a continuation of this vital discussion. With ships being built today most likely still being in commission by 2050, and no technology or fuels widely available, the group discussed whether net-zero carbon was a more realistic focus for the maritime industry, rather than reducing carbon altogether.

The forum offered a timely opportunity to discuss sustainability of the maritime industry and its impact on the global environment. With the UN Climate Change Conference – better known as COP26 – due to take place in Glasgow in November, the world’s focus is firmly on climate change and the role all industries play in safeguarding the long-term future of the planet.

We all know that right now we can design a ship to utilise zero carbon fuels. It’s been done. Can we build enough of them, soon enough, to reach zero carbon by 2050?
Kathy Metcalf, President and CEO, Chamber of Shipping of America

How are we going to drive those first movers, whether it’s through unilateral action, or through bilateral action between two countries, two cites, two ports. How do countries, cities, regions, organisations, consortiums, corporate entities, work together to demonstrate first mover opportunities?
Katharine Palmer, Shipping Lead at COP26

In addition to his role with the BSA and his day job as Managing Director of V.Ships UK, John serves as Vice Chair of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), an organisation committed to maritime environmental reform and which recently submitted plans to the industry’s UN regulator, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), detailing urgent measures which governments must take to help the industry achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

The ICS – which represents 80% of the global shipping industry – is pushing governments to double the IMO’s 50% emission reduction target. The plans include a compulsory R&D fund to develop zero-carbon technologies, and the development of a carbon levy for shipping to expedite the transition to more expensive zero-carbon fuels. The ICS proposal to the IMO MEPC77, also includes plans for the sharing of intellectual property amongst industry innovators in zero carbon technologies, to accelerate the pace of change within shipping.

Of the proposal, John, who in his work with ICS is chairman of the chamber’s greenhouse gas (GHG) working group, commented:

“We have expended a great deal of senior industry leaders time deliberating and analysing the most effective and equitable proposals to ensure that we can decarbonise our industry quickly and effectively. If adopted by governments at the IMO, these measures could lead to regulation that will swiftly move the shipping sector and associated industries towards a zero-carbon future.

“Governments can make a huge statement of their intent to get behind this new timeline by approving the industry’s proposed $5bn R&D fund in November at the IMO.”

The ICS will further focus on this subject at its upcoming Shaping the Future of Shipping decarbonisation conference, part of COP26’s programme of events.