Life-cycle fuel analysis ‘critical’ in reducing fleet emissions, says shipping council

Aerial view of big chemical plant. Production of different nitrogen fertilizers.

Well-to-Wake Life-Cycle Analysis (LCA) is “critical” in future fuel selection for the shipping industry, argues the World Shipping Council (WSC) in its latest report.

In a recent paper to International Maritime Organization (IMO) on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the WSC called on LCA for future low, near-zero, and zero GHG fuels for vessels transporting goods worldwide.

The WSC said LCA prevents the favouring of fuels that have attractive Tank-to-Wake figures, but produce high life-cycle emissions.

A range of low or zero-emission fuels are being trialled by industry currently: including ammonia, biofuel, and hydrogen.

The shipping council suggested that the IMO modify the Global Fuel Standard (GFS) proposal to include fewer steps and to establish dates for each step based on projected fuel and technology production times.

“This will encourage earlier investment in the production of low and near-zero GHG fuels, increase R&D towards more significant technology advances, and reduce the risk of the regulation stalling investments based on incremental change,” the association wrote.

Additionally, the shipping council argued that the IMO consider a benchmarking approach using an LCA-based GHG intensity metric that is more directly tied to meeting GHG reduction goals, increasing simplicity of implementation and the ability to verify and enforce standards.

READ: Port of Rotterdam to establish green ammonia import terminal

The WSC continued that the IMO’s goal to phase out GHG emissions from shipping will “require very significant investments” in the production and supply of low, near-zero, and zero GHG fuels.

“Countries across the globe face very different economic circumstances and some locations – especially those that are remote and import or export small volumes – already face very high transportation costs,” WSC wrote.

“Any proposal needs to identify an effective structure to address these issues of equity and sustainability of island states and developing economies.”

“This is the time for open-minded discussions and a shared focus around what is needed for our climate and the sustainability of global supply chains,” said John Butler, President & CEO of WSC.

“We have to think practically about what the proposals before the IMO can deliver in actual carbon emission reductions and also how to get to a decision. It is not just about getting to yes, but getting to yes on something that will make a difference for the future of our planet.”

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