The UK has launched a new agreement with the US, Norway, and the Netherlands to roll out end-end “green” shipping routes to boost maritime links between the countries. The pledge was announced at this year’s COP27 conference in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, where countries from around the world have gathered to tackle the climate crisis. One crucial aspect of reducing global emissions involves figuring out how to decarbonise the shipping industry, which currently produces almost three percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions. If the international maritime sector were a country, it would be the world’s eighth largest emitter.
In an effort to tackle this hugely polluting source, the UK has partnered with the rest of the countries to launch so-called “green shipping corridors”, which are specific maritime routes that are completely decarbonised from end to end, including both land-side infrastructure and vessels.
Setting up such green links between countries would require using zero-emissions fuel or electricity, and would involve building refuelling or recharging infrastructure at ports.
Another aspect regarded as a major challenge for the industry is deploying vehicles that are capable of working with zero emission fuel in a bid to demonstrate cleaner, more environmentally-friendly shipping on a given route.
Britain and the US in particular have agreed to launch a special Green Shipping Corridor Task Force, which will boost the sector by bringing together experts that could help accelerate these plans.
In particular, the UK and the US have agreed to launch a special Green Shipping Corridor Task Force focussed on bringing together experts in the sector, encouraging vital research and development, and driving other important work and projects to see these initiatives come to reality as quickly as possible.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “The challenges posed by climate change are clear and the need to decarbonise maritime has never been greater.
“That’s why we’ve committed to work alongside global partners to clean up the sector, improve air quality in and around our ports and coastal communities, and drive green investment into our economy.
“But we must not lose momentum. I’m delighted to say the UK has agreed to begin developing green shipping routes with some of our closest allies, as we work together to realise the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and limit global warming.”
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Announced during COP27, this plan to decarbonise the shipping industry could help the sector fulfil its obligations to reach the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
According to the Department of Transportation, this follows the success of the UK-led Clydebank Declaration at COP26 – the ground-breaking global initiative to provide a framework for governments to establish zero-emission shipping routes between ports.
The UK has already made significant progress in accelerating green shipping, with the Global Maritime Forum hailing Britain as the most proactive government in the Clydebank Declaration in terms of stakeholder engagement.
The UK, alongside its counterparts in the Zero Emission Shipping Mission, also recently published an action plan to remove obstacles to creating a greener maritime sector.
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This plan, which “aims to bridge innovation gaps faced by the sector”, help create clean energy ports, zero-emission vessels and the green fuels that will be needed to develop green shipping corridors.Ben Murray, CEO of Maritime UK, said: “Green Shipping Corridors have the potential to catalyse decarbonisation in the maritime sector by focusing on specific maritime routes.
“Not only can they help to identify and action the solutions needed for a given corridor by aligning vessels with infrastructure, but they can also demonstrate the UK’s leadership and pitch to the rest of the world as we all seek to accelerate our progress toward net zero. Be that finance, professional services, technology, or manufacturing.
“Maritime UK and its members are committed to developing green corridors and look forward to working closely with partners from the US, Norway, and the Netherlands to make them a reality.”
UK Chamber of Shipping CEO Sarah Treseder said: “Green corridors can play an essential role in stimulating early action to adopt low and net-zero emission technologies and fuels. Today’s announcement is a welcome step in the international action required to decarbonise shipping. The UK shipping community is committed to working with the UK Government in securing bold action at the International Maritime Organization to provide more ambitious and concrete decarbonisation strategies.”