UK calls for zero global shipping emissions by 2050

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Transport secretary Grant Shapps announced on September 13 that the UK will work toward an absolute zero target for international shipping emissions by 2050.

The zero-emission vision is planned to be achieved through launching zero-emission vessels into commercial service by 2025. However, this target still needs to be agreed by the International Maritime Organization, whose current target is to reduce shipping emissions to half by 2050, with a strategy revision not due until 2023.

Maritime UK chair Sarah Kenny said, “The UK is the natural home for maritime business and will play a pivotal role in helping this most global of sectors to decarbonize. International challenges require international solutions and it is right government seeks to lead regulatory action here in London.”

The announcement came during the UK government’s International Shipping Week, an in-person and virtual global shipping and maritime event that ran from September 13-17.

At a speech on September 15, the transport secretary announced the winners of the multimillion-pound Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition. The competition allocated up to £23m (US$31m) match-funding to UK innovators to support the design and development of zero-emission vessel technologies and greener ports through a series of technology trials and feasibility studies. The winning projects were the Lifecycle Energy Solutions for Clean Scotland/UK Maritime Economy project and the Twin Motor, Zero Emission Powertrain for Commercial Workboats project. Focused on green maritime solutions, the competition was launched last November as part of the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution.

Shapps said, “As a maritime nation with a rich history, and host of [the United Nations Climate Change Conference]COP26 this year, we are proud to be at the forefront of the greener era for maritime, charting an international course for the future of clean shipping. I’m incredibly excited by the prospect of zero-emission commercial vessels in UK waters in the next few years and green Channel crossings within a decade. Taking action now allows us to lead the charge on this global shift, creating highly skilled jobs for British workers and shaping the landscape for what clean shipping and trade will look like for future generations.”

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