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$3.4trn investment to modernise fleet by 2050, says Stopford

Dr Stopford said that new shipping companies, organisations and regulations will be needed because today's versions are not fit for the decarbonisation purpose

The rough estimate from the renowned shipping economist comes as he warns that ships built before 2020 could account for around 50% of all emissions form today until 2050 and that collaboration between owners and charterers will be necessary to get the money in

SHIPOWNERS will need to invest around $3.4trn in fleet renewal and expansion by 2050, according to Dr Martin Stopford.

The non-executive president of Clarkson Research Services said during a presentation at the Capital Link decarbonisation forum on Thursday that this “very crude” estimate shows owners would have to spend around $2.2trn in renewing the existing fleet amid decarbonisation pressures and about $1.2trn in expanding amid increased global trade.

Containerships and bulkers would each claim around 15% of this total spend, while gas tankers would take another 12% and tankers just 6%.

Dr Stopford’s projection is based on a scenario of “soft” global growth that he had produced in April 2020 and which estimated that global shipping emissions would decline from around 900m tonnes of CO2 in 2008 to 324m tonnes in 2050. That meets the IMO’s requirements of a minimum 50% reduction in GHG emissions between the two time periods.

But the problem is that shipping’s historical earnings suggest that shipping companies alone will not be able to generate anywhere near this required money, Dr Stopford noted. To be able to do that, owners will need help from charterers.

“In a sense, the characters have to take the lead in deciding what sort of technology they need to get involved in,” he said.

Shipbuilders will also have to take a lead in building ships that can deliver those charterer demands and emissions savings.

As for shipowners, Dr Stopford believes they are the ones who will have to take the lead in building organisations and structures that will give charterers a sense of security in terms of getting value for the money they are investing.

“Today’s companies and regulatory systems were not designed to tackle the problems that lie ahead,” he said.

But Dr Stopford also made it clear that for the next few decades it is the existing fleet that will play the biggest role in terms of emissions and therefore efficiently managing this fleet will be crucial.

He said that the three future scenarios he developed in his analysis last year show that on average the ships built before 2020 will account for around 50% of all shipping emissions by 2050. Another average 22% of emissions will come from post-2020 built diesel ships and 28% will come from gas and hybrid ships.

“The great thing about the existing fleet is that it has a relatively low capital value and therefore you can afford to trade the ships more slowly,” he said.

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