08 Jun 2021
As the world shifts its focus to sustainability and the state of our planet and the need to mitigate climate change, many have called into question the role of the global shipping industry. The industry itself is said to be one of the biggest carbon emitters and is responsible for more than 2% of global emissions.
To tackle the problem, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has set a goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and developing zero-emission vessels by 2030. However lofty the goal may seem; it is a crucial step towards decarbonizing the shipping industry and creating a long-term sustainable solution to achieving carbon neutrality.
Achieving carbon neutrality
Carbon neutrality is achieved when the operations of a business emit the same amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that is then offset by some other means. Adding solar panels, planting trees, and recycling are all great examples of this.
However, there is a broad spectrum of activities that contribute to carbon emissions and various methods to tackle the problem. Overall, reducing emissions can be achieved by switching to emission-reducing alternatives. One such method is eco-friendly underwater hull cleaning, as a dirty hull caused by biofouling can increase fuel consumption by up to 40%, impacting the need to be carbon neutral.
Why go carbon neutral?
Many are still hesitant about investing in carbon-neutral practices, as it certainly a big commitment. In the long run, there are well-known benefits of carbon neutrality, including the following:
● One of the biggest proponents of change has been the growing consumer demand for a sustainable supply chain. Customers are beginning to question the environmental price tag of their purchases and are willing to spend more to aid environmental efforts. Ensuring that your business is eco-friendly can help to improve consumer confidence.
● Despite the heavy price tag that comes with going green, decreasing wasteful power consumption and shipping practices can help businesses save money.
● By helping mitigate climate change, businesses are protecting the very planet they conduct their business on, maintaining resources that allow operations to stay productive and profitable.
But what are some ways the shipping industry can reduce its carbon emissions? Here are a few ideas:
One of the most obvious ways to reduce shipping emissions is by investing in fuel that produces fewer greenhouse emissions and pollutants. However, ships are carried across long distances and require a large amount of fuel, with vessels easily consuming around 63 000 gallons a day while sailing the seas.
A heavy fuel oil known as “bunker fuel” is utilised, but this contains a much higher sulphur content than diesel and is, therefore, much worse for the environment. The beginning of 2020 saw the International Maritime Organization implement stricter rules for using this fuel, bringing the maximum allowable sulfur content down from 3.5% to 0.5%.
The development of hydrogen as a method of powering ships may hold the potential to reduce carbon emissions to 0%. While using green hydrogen is a great alternative to bunker fuel, it does require 2-4 times the physical space and the need for shipping companies to switch to electric motors and hydrogen fuel cells. Adopting green hydrogen as the primary fuel source can become a costly affair, but it does have the potential to drastically reduce the shipping industry's carbon emissions.
The Poseidon Principles were first launched in New York on 18 June 2019 and is an agreement between the finance sector and the shipping industry. The four principles – Assessment of climate alignment, Accountability, Enforcement and Transparency - are a global framework that integrates the IMO's policies on climate change and ensures that it is placed at the forefront of the ship finance decision making processes. These principles are necessary when assessing and disclosing the climate alignment of ship finance portfolios, which will help achieve the ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions within the shipping industry.
The four Poseidon Principles are in line with the objectives of the IMO, as these Principles aim to reduce the total annual greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050. Signatories are expected to have their yearly carbon emissions assessed by an IMO-recognised organisation, with specific data by shipowners then provided to their financiers. To ensure transparency, signatories are required to disclose the climate alignment of their vessel, which will then be shared with other signatories.
Investing in environmentally conscious companies
Investing in environmentally conscious companies and methods is one step to aiding our planet. Biofouling has been a consistent challenge for vessels due to its interference with operations and increases in vessel drag, fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. Biofouling, is a term used to describe the gradual accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae, or small animals, has an ecological impact on local marine species. These invasive species accumulate on the ship's hull and are then transported from one region to the next, going on to compete with local fauna and flora.
HullWiper’s Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) is a trusted and eco-friendly underwater hull cleaning system that collects marine fouling from hulls, preventing these invasive marine species from affecting local marine life. The ROV uses adjustable seawater jets to dislodge marine biofouling from vessel hulls. Adhering to their mission to preserve our oceans, the HullWiper ROV's attached filter unit deposits captured residue into dedicated drums onshore, ensuring that the residue is disposed of by a locally approved environmental waste disposal company.
Since its launch in late 2013, HullWiper has expanded from its first base in Dubai to key locations across the Middle East, as well as ports in Australia, Denmark, Egypt, Gibraltar, Mauritius, Namibia, Norway, Panama, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Korea and Sweden.