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The Lloyd’s List Podcast: The rhetoric and reality of decarbonising shipping

Listen to the latest edition of the Lloyd’s List’s weekly podcast — your free weekly briefing on the stories shaping shipping

Promising decarbonisation is easier than delivering it, so as the high profile pledges and projects that were born out of last year’s climate climax get underway we are looking at the distance between rhetoric and reality this week on the podcast. Shell Shipping’s Claire Wright joins the discussion covering everything from future fuels and innovation to investment and second-guessing political progress


LISTENING in to recent speeches by various executives you would be forgiven for thinking that the industry is unified, aligned and working towards a common goal when it comes to decarbonisation.

The reality is inevitably a bit more complex.

We’ve seen a lot of pledges, a lot plans, and lot trials and concepts and programmes.

But following several years of aspirational rhetoric and easy promises on decarbonisation, the deadlines are starting to close in, and decisions are required.

And this is the point where start to measure the gap between rhetoric and reality.

The academic studies and the industry reports are clear — action is needed now, investment is urgent and scale should be our number one priority.

But academics tend not to understand the finer detail of what it takes to put a piece of green tech on a ship and how long it will take to test, learn and scale, while simultaneously keeping shipping as safe as we have managed to get it over the past few decades.

Last year in the run-up to the COP26 decarbonisation summit we saw a lot of announcements and agreements in principle. 

But the gap between agreement in principle and actually getting that ship on the water is years and that has created expectations that progress would be quicker than has turned out to be the case.

We know instinctively that the green transition is going to be a generational shift and we know it’s going to cost trillions of dollars — which is a sum that would seem scary even to Maersk’s accountants.

That is a daunting prospect when you consider those trillions represent a global energy shift that is needed to develop the production infrastructure. Shipping as an industry can't unlock that. But what it can do is be ready and be a demand sources for those new green fuels with sufficient learning and experience to have de-risked them.

So with all that in mind we have turned this week to someone who is grappling with these very issues daily and trying to bride the gap between rhetoric and reality.

Claire Wright is the General Manager of Commercial Shipping & Strategy at Shell and she joins Lloyd’s List editor Richard Meade to discuss a broad set of topics covering everything from fuels and innovation to investment and second-guessing political progress.

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