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Shipping sector needs $1 trillion to decarbonize by 2050, says report


About $1trillion of capital investment in land-based and ship-related infrastructure is required to halve international shipping’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a new study shows.

According to a study by Getting to Zero Coalition, shipping needs to make a radical shift to zero-carbon energy sources in the coming three decades to reduce the sector’s total greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 per cent of 2008 levels by 2050, a target set by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

This transition, it said, requires significant infrastructure investments in new fuel production, supply chains, and a new or retrofitted fleet.


The study by UMAS and the Energy Transitions Commission for the Getting to Zero Coalition spells out the scale of the challenge. It said: “depending on the production method, the cumulative investment needed between 2030 and 2050, to halve shipping’s emissions amounts to approximately $1- $1.4trillion, or an average of $50- $70 billion yearly for 20 years.

“If shipping is to fully decarbonise by 2050, this will require further investments of some $400billion over 20 years, bringing the total to $1.4- $1.9trillion,”

Managing Director, Head of Projects & Programmes at the Global Maritime Forum, a partner of the Getting to Zero Coalition, Johannah Christensen, said: “We need to understand the scale of the challenge to solve it. Shipping’s shift to zero-carbon energy sources calls for significant infrastructure investments. The investment needed should be seen in the context of global investments in energy, which in 2018 amounted to $1.85trillion. This illustrates that shipping’s green transition is considerable, but certainly within reach, if the right policy measures are put in place,”

Reader at the UCL Energy Institute, Tristan Smith, said: “Energy infrastructure and ships are long-life capital-intensive assets that normally evolve slowly. In the next three decades, however, our analysis suggests we will see a disruptive and rapid change to align to a new zero-carbon system, with fossil fuel aligned assets becoming obsolete or needing significant modification.

“Even though regulatory drivers of this system change such as carbon pricing are only starting to be debated, the economic viability of today’s investments and even the returns on recent investments will be challenged, and the sooner this is factored into strategies and plans, the better.”

The analysis showed that the biggest share of investments is needed in the land-based infrastructure and production facilities for low carbon fuels, which make up around 87 per cent of the total. This includes investments in the production of low carbon fuels, and the land-based storage and bunkering infrastructure needed for their supply.

Only 13 per cent of the investments needed are related to the ships themselves. These investments include the machinery and onboard storage required for a ship to run on low carbon fuels in newbuilds and, in some cases, for retrofits. Ship-related investments also include investments in improving energy efficiency, which is estimated to grow due to the higher cost of low carbon fuels compared to traditional marine fuels.

Chairman of Global Shipping Logistics & Offshore at Citi, Michael Parker, said: “Sustainable investing is here to stay. We foresee that there will be a great appetite for investments in sustainable infrastructure projects that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”


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