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The Lloyd’s List Podcast: A case for optimism in shipping’s zero-carbon challenge

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

Fuel and infrastructure availability should not be a barrier to shipping’s rapid decarbonisation. Aligning the industry with a 1.5°C Paris Agreement temperature goal is entirely feasible with the right development in the Global South, argues Trafigura. But nothing happens without a carbon price and regulatory clarity this year. Can we do it? This week’s edition of the podcast makes the optimistic case that all this is within reach



ON paper the industry is pushing ahead with a twin track project of near term efficiency gains while politicians agree a clear regulatory timeline that unlocks the investment, scales low-emission fuels, and addresses ongoing concerns about future supply and demand.

In reality the distant prospect of any meaningful political agreement is being routinely used as a pretext for widespread inaction, or worse, outright greenwashing as companies attempt to keep up the pretence of progress amid growing uncertainty and the likelihood of an expensive delayed zero-carbon transition regulated by a fragmented patchwork of national regimes.

And yet, this week the Lloyd’s List Podcast is offering you a case for optimism and an argument that progress is possible. 

Because it seems the industry is not sold. The International Chamber of Shipping’s recent survey of executives published this week made it clear that green fuel availability and infrastructure remain the top concerns for those holding off on investment beyond a hedge bet on bridging fuels such as LNG.

This hesitance to divest away from fossil fuels is a problem for shipping’s ability to reduce emissions in a meaningful way.

But there is another view — a convincing view backed up by solid research commissioned by the International Maritime Organization that tells us that achieving a more ambitious decarbonisation pathway is not limited by the technical and commercial readiness of fuels and technologies, nor infrastructure and shipyard readiness.

While fuels are and will be more expensive than currently used fuels, this is not a barrier to their uptake for the shipping industry if the demand signal is clear.

That’s a view very much aligned to another report that’s about to come out, this one being published by Trafigura who will argue next week that there is potential to produce large volumes of so-called electrofuels in Africa, Asia and South America, to meet future demand from the shipping industry, while providing countries in these regions with the chance to develop new export industries and create thousands of skilled jobs.

The Global South provides the supply, industry provides the demand and we get that equitable transition of a zero-carbon economy we all want but until now have assumed to be out of reach. Easy really.

Well inevitably, there’s a catch — it relies on progress being made inside the IMO this summer at the pivotal Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting.

Is that possible? We asked one of the lead authors of the report, Trafigura energy transition research head Margaux Moore to join the discussion this week along with podcast regular Tristan Smith, associate professor in energy and transport at UCL and co-founder of hugely respected climate research body UMAS.

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