Shipping Industry Emissions

The greening of the maritime sector is a notable piece of the UAE’s overall decarbonization puzzle.

With logistics being the lifeblood of international commerce, it is scarcely surprising to learn that the global shipping industry accounts for around three percent of earth’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

So says the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Indeed, its ambitious goal is zero carbon footprint by 2050 from a relatively recent base year of 2008. This decarbonization of maritime fuel requires cross-industry coordination between public and private sectors, including the gradual adoption of biofuel vessels.

Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum (WEF) states that in order to realize the 2050 target, 5% of shipping fuels need to be decarbonized by 2030. Fortunately, it seems that tangible progress has been made.

Round Table, Clean Solutions

The International Ports Authorities hold a major annual roundtable to tackle pressing industry issues. In 2022, its seventh edition was staged in Abu Dhabi, in an event launched by Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Suhail Bin Mohammed Al Mazrouei.

Attendees mulling the theme of Reimagining a New Era of Trade Together came from, among many others, Barcelona, Guangzhou, Iraq, Oman, Rotterdam, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Shanghai.

In light of COVID-19, disruption and risk management to mitigate such shocks was a prominent topic. As were infrastructural responses to the prospect of rising sea levels, digitalization and decarbonization. Several port authorities revealed plans to transition from fuel oil to liquefied natural gas or more radically, hydrogen in future fleets, among other environmental initiatives.

On the fringes of the roundtable, the media was covering a key story of this year. Because the UAE and Singapore have come together to advance the goals of digitalization and decarbonization of the maritime industry to ensure the sustainability of tomorrow’s global supply chains.

According to Quah Ley Hoon, CEO of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, “Singapore and the UAE enjoy strong bilateral relations; we are both [maritime] hubs in different regions of the world and it is our role to ensure that whatever ships that cross in Singapore and the UAE, we are able to handle the different types of challenges, moving forward.”

Particular attention was drawn to the progressive digitalization of the maritime sector for greater interconnectivity to streamline cargo clearance and optimize the flow of goods, and to its decarbonization, which the two nations are to share ideas on. This will have direct implications for the fleets of tomorrow.

Cross Industry Initiative

In another major story of this year reported by Emirates News Agency (WAM) in July 2022 Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) and K Line (Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line Group), one of the world’s largest shipping groups, have opted to cooperate on the de-carbonization of bulk cargo shipping.

The reported objective concerns the research and implementation of new marine decarbonization technologies for use with for EGA’s bulk cargo shipping routes in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean.

As EGA reported, shipping accounts for a certain ratio of the emissions generated by its supply chain, which are known as scope 3 emissions, and so the greening of the entire chain is the target. Still somewhat radical in nature, the initiatives will encompass kite systems to minimize energy required for vessel momentum, and reportedly CO2 capture technology. And meanwhile, improved fuel efficiency spells reduced shipping costs.

The Wider Green Landscape

The greening of the maritime sector, while inevitable, is but a step in the UAE’s march toward carbon neutrality. It is worth closing with a third environmentally significant agreement of 2022.

In July, when UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited Paris along with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna, he witnessed the signing of an agreement for a new JV between National Petroleum Construction Company (NPCC), a subsidiary of National Marine Dredging Company, and Technip Energies.

The JV—NT ENERGIES LLC—to be headquartered in Abu Dhabi, will address the wide application of added value services in hydrogen and related decarbonization projects as well as CO2 capture in the UAE, the region and North Africa. Technip Energies talked of a “new milestone in our journey to accelerate the energy transition and limit climate change.”

Comprehensive in scope, aside from providing services for onshore and offshore oil and gas fields and facilities, it will engage in the maintenance and manufacturing of alternative energy equipment and provide oil and gas facilities consultancy and engineering consultations and conduct alternative energy research.

Giant kites may curb the energy needs of future shipping fleets, but the greening of the maritime sector will work best as part of bigger international initiatives at decarbonization.