R&D for green fuel fund gets new thrust from maritime groups

Maritime groups hope progress to establish a research and development (R&D) fund meant to find the green fuel of the future can accelerate now that they have addressed concerns about the fund raised by some nations.

The organizations — including the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), BIMCO, Intertanko, and the World Shipping Council (WSC) — submitted a joint proposal to the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO’s) Marine and Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) 78 this week.

In the submission, the maritime groups tackled concerns expressed by some member nations at last year’s MEPC 77 meeting over the creation of a $5 billion R&D fund to be managed by the International Maritime Research and Development Board (IMRB) and the International Maritime Research and Development Fund (IMRF). The member states were concerned about the equitable use of funds, as well as fair and equal access to patents and technologies globally, issues that have delayed progress in establishing the fund.

“Accelerating R&D investments into zero-carbon technologies is the first pathway the member nations of the IMO should adopt in order to enable progress across other regulatory areas such as market-based measures,” John Butler, president and CEO of WSC, said in a statement Tuesday.

“The transition to zero-carbon shipping presents a unique opportunity for nations with abundant resources for green energy such as sun, wind, and waves to develop as suppliers of alternative maritime fuels,” Butler added. “The IMRB-IMRF is ready to implement, and the amendments now proposed further ensure its ability to provide equitable access to both funding and outputs.”

Urgent search for carbon-free fuel

Key proposals from maritime organizations aimed at addressing matters raised at MEPC 77 include devoting $50 million annually to support technical assistance efforts in small island states and developing countries via the IMO’s greenhouse gas (GHG) trust fund; expanding the IMRB board by 10 members to be more geographically representative; greater collaboration in projects between developed and developing countries; and modifications to the intellectual property text to address issues over sharing of R&D.

The urgency of finding a zero-carbon fuel for shipping, which produces almost 3 percent of global emissions, grows each year. To align with the IMO target of a 50 percent cut in GHG emissions by 2050 compared with 2008 levels, zero-emission fuels will need to become the dominant fuel source by the 2040s, gradually phasing out current fossil fuels.

Shipping sectors have been broadly in favor of market-based measures, which have been on the IMO agenda since 2003. At MEPC 76 in 2021, the IMO adopted a structured plan to start work on midterm measures to cut GHG emissions from ships, which included market-based measures. One such measure proposed by the ICS last September was a global market-based levy on carbon emissions from vessels.

However, still lacking is the crucial regulatory piece of the puzzle, analysts and shipping groups say. To achieve its global decarbonization targets, the maritime industry will need a regulatory framework that encourages investment in low- or zero-emissions assets and infrastructure.

Organizations representing global shipping proposed the $5 billion R&D fund at MEPC 76, hoping to hasten the creation of decarbonization technologies. The proposal called for the fund to be financed over a 10-year period via a required levy of $2 per ton of marine fuel consumed, to be paid for by shipping companies. The fund would be overseen by the IMO through the IMRB, which under the plan would be operational by 2023.

Source: https://www.joc.com/

Tags: BIMCO, Green Fuel, IMO, Maritime, MEPC, WSC
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