Blog - Pledge to reduce GHG emissions

A view from the FOC'SLE #14: Pledge to reduce
GHG emissions

BLOG | January 2024

Very clearly looming large on the horizon is the IMO pledge to reduce GHG emissions emanating from international shipping by at least half by the year 2050, compared to the benchmark in 2008. In a step up, (or down) reductions were set for 40% by 2030 and 70% by 2050.

Necessary steps, particularly judging by the weather we have been seeing over the past 6 to 9 months.

These GHG reductions will not come by slow steaming alone but will need a sea change in propulsion methods and fuel types, together with improved hull and propeller designs and an array of other major improvements.

The estimated cost for achieving these goals is in the region of $1.4trn.

This leaves the casual observer wondering, “Who will pay?”

Eventually, the consumer will pay via increased freight rates and charter hire costs. But that is a long way down a rather narrow and rocky road as we initially need to answer other issues.

Firstly, where are the ships that will have these new engines and where is the fuel to come from?

Given a typical ship has a 20-year lifespan, just about all the huge number of vessels now in builders’ yards or on builders’ books will be operating by 2030, and many will still be around by 2050. With this, in concrete steps, what have we done, to start to achieve the IMO goals?

Photo Source:

Scrapping of older, ‘dirtier’ ships proceeds at somewhat slower than a snail’s pace. Old dogs do seem to learn new tricks, and the crude tanker old dogs seem to have learned one particular trick that may be discussed elsewhere. But it keeps them at sea and off Gadani Beach. The engine manufacturers have yet to develop any new technology that takes us past methanol, ammonia, or LNG fuel – all of which have major disadvantages. For instance, a ship using methanol fuel would need to carry 360% more fuel than if it were burning IFO380 to have the same range and speed.

On the brighter side, we have read that some ship owners have invested heavily in promising new technologies, for example, the nuclear Molten Salt Reactor system. This has great promise but is certainly not going to be ready for widespread commercial application and fitted to ships much before the IMO deadline.

Being a Lookout Man by profession causes one to have an occasionally jaded view of the way ahead, and perhaps this is why some small alarms are now ringing concerning the trend of splitting the maritime industry into “Good Guys and Bad Guys”. The “Good Guys” will try their best to reduce GHG emissions, even going to great lengths to help beneficial developments. The “Bad Guys”, however, may well multiply in number, finding even more ways to evade supervision and operate on the dark side.

The Chief Cook tells me that fish will be on the menu more often this year, so in our next edition, we will consider where that delicacy may have come from.

Reference of the MSR for a visual comparison of its size. Photo source here.

Until then, have a safe and productive voyage.

Your Lookout Man

capt jon elliot coastal marine

About The Lookout Man

Captain Jon Elliott

Capt. Jon began his seafaring career in 1960.  He spent 11 Years in Taiwan running US Lines and then moved to Singapore in 1980 where he eventually joined Matthews Daniel in Singapore in 1989 and becoming Far East Managing Director. Capt. Jon started his own company Elliott Associates Pte Ltd after his retirement to bring an enhanced level of loss prevention to the Asian Marine industry. Capt. Jon is a consultant to Coastal Marine Asia Holdings Limited in our Loss Prevention Division providing technical guidance to our underwriters, whilst arranging crew and management loss prevention training for some of our insureds.

Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article are personal to him and do not reflect the views of Coastal Marine or any of its employees, unless explicitly stated. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated. The author and Coastal Marine make no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of any information in the article and we do not accept any responsibility for the same. This publication is provided as-is without warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement.

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