The shipping sector, responsible for transporting approximately 90% of the world's goods, plays a vital role in the global economy. However, its significance comes with environmental consequences, contributing around 3% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Despite being recognized for efficiency and lower carbon intensity, there is an undeniable need to decarbonize the sector, aligning with the imperative to combat climate change.
Historically, maritime discussions focused on managing pollutants like sulphur (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). However, the conversation has evolved, and recent regulatory agendas prioritize reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In July 2023, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) revealed a revised GHG Strategy, aiming for net-zero GHG emissions from international shipping by 2050 and promoting the adoption of alternative zero and near-zero GHG fuels by 2030.
The IMO's commitment to Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) guidelines and regulatory frameworks signifies a comprehensive examination of fuels based on a well-to-wake emissions profile, addressing all GHG emissions, including CH4 and N2O. As the global merchant fleet is expected to expand to 60,000 vessels by 2030, the marine fuels landscape is shifting toward a mix coexisting with traditional fossil fuels. This mix includes low carbon fuels like methane and methanol, derived from various pathways, and zero carbon fuels such as ammonia and hydrogen.
Safety protocols must evolve alongside technological advancements during this paradigm shift, and SGMF plays a crucial role. SGMF advocates for a fuel-agnostic approach, emphasizing well-to-wake lifecycle analysis and encouraging the evaluation of fuels based on comprehensive environmental assessments.
SGMF actively promotes an emissions reduction culture within the sector, addressing fugitive, operational, and emergency releases, along with emissions from fuel combustion. Collaborating with its members, SGMF supports the industry in adopting diverse fuel solutions, recognizing the need for various fuels in facilitating the marine fuel energy transition. The future of shipping is likely to involve a mix of fuels, each with its unique role and environmental benefits, as the industry strives to meet ambitious emissions reduction targets.