‘Green Shipping’ The Key To Create Sustainable Future!


  • The theme for this year’s world maritime day was newer technologies for green shipping to support green transition and sustainable future.
  • The IMO has also started supporting a greener transition of the maritime industry and the innovation and deployment of new technologies.
  • The Secretary General of IMO also stated that Green shipping will also help the global maritime environment.

Over 50 years ago, world leaders, environmentalists, and public intellectuals met in Stockholm to discuss how to preserve and improve the human environment in order to green our planet.

Ongoing debates

How do we protect a world inhabited by over 8 billion people, with the sea covering nearly 80% of the earth’s surface? From Stockholm to Kyoto, the debate on global warming has raged on to this day.

Prior to the 2022 World Maritime Day, the key question that resonates in the industry as maritime organizations face increasing pressure from charterers, seafarers, regulatory bodies, shipowners, and stakeholders is how shipping can be sustainable and responsible.

Greener shipping theme

The World Maritime Day Celebration this year took place on September 29, 2022. The event’s theme was “Newer technologies for greener shipping.” Why was this theme chosen? 

According to the International Maritime Organization, it is to support a green transition of the maritime sector to a sustainable future while leaving no one behind (IMO).

The theme is related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), specifically SDGs 13 and 14, which address climate change and ocean sustainability. 

SDG 9 on industry, innovation, and infrastructure is closely related to the theme, as is SDG 17, which emphasizes the importance of partnerships and implementation to achieve these goals.

Global concerns

Aside from decaying maritime and port infrastructures in most developing countries and aging ships plying the global commons, there are concerns about environmental damage caused by pollution. 

Because environmental issues have gained prominence, the IMO is actively supporting a greener transition of the shipping sector into a sustainable future, as well as highlighting research and development, maritime innovation, and the demonstration and deployment of new technologies

Conquering difficulties

To achieve these goals, the current Secretary General of the IMO, Kitack Lim, stated: “Partnerships are very important provided all parties involved are allowed to share and disseminate information on best practises and to access resources and general know-how in support of the maritime sector’s transition into a greener and more sustainable future.”

According to some maritime experts, “the desire for greener shipping will benefit the global maritime environment. This, they argued, was necessary to combat climate change, reduce air pollution, and limit the harm done to the sea and its resources.

There are stakeholders who want greener shipping because they care about humanity’s health and well-being.”

We must always remember that the sea covers roughly 80% of the earth’s surface and provides 50-60% of the air we breathe. As a result, we must protect the sea from carbon emissions and other pollutants.

Carbon emissions

According to World Bank data, shipping accounts for approximately 3% of global emissions each year. Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, carbon emissions from shipping were increasing due to increased maritime trade.

According to researchers, this has a significant impact on global warming.

People are becoming more aware of the shipping emission issues. Separate studies have shown that if nothing is done, CO2 emissions will not only be higher than expected, but will continue to rise as global trade expands.

IMO’s steps

According to Lloyd’s List, shipping emissions increased by 4.9 percent in 2021, with 833 metric tonnes of CO2 emitted, up from 794 metric tonnes in 2020 and 800 metric tonnes in 2019.

According to analysts, this is an inconvenient reality for the IMO. 

As a result, the IMO has decided to reduce ship carbon intensity by 40% by 2030, despite harsh criticism for failing to agree on additional checks that will meet international climate change targets.

Economic challenge

All nations are expected to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Given global economic challenges, will most nations achieve specific SDGs 13, 14, 9, and 17 for greener shipping?

Despite regulatory pressures, maritime experts believe that roughly 75% of the global fleet will be unable to comply with the IMO’s new technical metrics, which go into effect in January 2023. The IMO debate revolves around how to ensure that the transition to greener shipping is equitable, with no country left behind.

Carbon revenues

The World Bank is considering generating carbon revenues from all countries. This could be a game changer for the energy transition.

So, for newer, more energy-efficient, and often safer ships from developed countries, carbon pricing is suggested.

According to a World Bank analysis, less developed countries with older, less energy-efficient, and less safe vessels may face no carbon price. In a world full of contradictions, it remains to be seen how this suggestion will work.

Risky endeavors

So, why is shipping struggling to innovate? It is due to shipowners’ business models. What matters to shipowners is the return on investment, not R&D. R&D is an expensive and risky endeavor with many unknowns.

Many shipping companies in developing countries will almost certainly avoid R&D. That is why, in an era of technological and operational revolution, many shipping firms in developing countries are no longer fit for purpose.

As the debate continues, some maritime experts believe that greater innovation will occur when shipping business models and performance-based trading are revamped. It is critical to emphasize that “the capital expenditure of installing energy-saving technology into vessels can be enormous, so the entire value chain must be considered.”

Improving infrastructure

Improving infrastructure in the global maritime space, particularly ports, shipbuilding facilities, dredged channels, dams, and other tangible structures, as well as access to ports, is a must. These are capital-intensive endeavors that require energy-efficient technologies for innovation.

In the end, experts say, innovation will necessitate collaboration, scale, data, and entirely new business models.

As the world strives for greener shipping, we wish all seafarers, charterers, shipowners, and maritime stakeholders fair winds and following seas, with the firm belief that their anchors will hold in life’s storms.

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Source: Business Day