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Transformative commitments made by shipping leaders at COP28

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP28, is convening in the heart of Dubai, from November 30 to December 12, 2023, drawing the world’s attention to a decisive decade for climate action.

Over 70,000 delegates, including business leaders, climate scientists, and various stakeholders including shipping leaders focused on implementing the Paris Climate Change Agreement to intensify efforts to limit the rise of global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius, crucial for averting the worst impacts of climate change.

Amidst the broader discussions of loss, damage, finance, and the global stocktake, a significant moment unfolded in the shipping sector.

The industry’s top executives namely

  • Vincent Clerc (CEO of Maersk),
  • Rodolphe SAADE (CEO of CMA CGM),
  • Soren Toft (CEO of MSC),
  • Rolf Habben Jansen (CEO of Hapag Lloyd) and
  • Lasse Kristoffersen (CEO of Wallenius Wilhelmsen)

assembled at the event showcasing a unified front in the quest for sustainable shipping and decarbonization.

COP28’s Green Shipping Challenge session saw Vincent Clerc set the tone with his announcement of the Laura Maersk, the world’s first methanol fuel container vessel, heralding a series of over 180 green fuel-enabled ships.

His call for a ‘green balance fee’ to offset the costs of green shipping resonated throughout the event. This fee would be distributed across all fossil fuels used in shipping, ensuring an equitable transition without placing undue pressure on global economies.

Rodolphe Saadé emphasized the need for a robust framework under the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to achieve emission reduction targets.

Highlighting CMA CGM’s $15 billion investment in fleet decarbonization, Saadé underscored the urgency of accessible green fuels and international pricing mechanisms to accelerate this transition.

Soren Toft echoed these sentiments, advocating for a multi-fuel strategy and an end to the delivery of fossil fuel vessels. MSC’s commitment to net zero by 2050, backed by an impressive investment of over $15 billion, reflects their dedication to this cause.

Toft stressed the importance of a level playing field and global policies to foster collaboration in developing net zero energy sources.

Rolf Habben Jansen spoke about aligning investment decisions with climate goals, focusing on a ‘well-to-wake’ emission analysis. Hapag Lloyd’s approach involves renewing fleets, retrofitting ships for reduced fuel consumption, redesigning networks for efficiency, and exploring a range of green fuels, including biofuel and liquid gas.

Lastly, Lasse Kristoffersen highlighted their efforts in developing green corridors by land and sea, investing in zero-emission trucking, power in terminals, and a fleet of emission-free vessels by 2027.

Their experimental work with wind technology, aiming to introduce a wind-powered vessel by 2025, exemplifies the innovative spirit required for this transition.

These leaders unanimously agreed on the need for international regulations and incentives to support these bold steps making their message clear – “The path to decarbonization is not a competitive race but a collaborative journey, one where every effort counts towards a greener, more sustainable future.

COP28, therefore, was not just a forum for policy discussions but a rallying point for action. As the global stocktake revealed, while progress has been slow in some areas, solutions and tools are abundant.

COP28 was a “can-do COP,” a call to arms for countries to demonstrate how these tools will be utilized in the crucial next two years, to urgently pick up the pace of climate action.

In conclusion, COP28’s emphasis on implementation and action provided the perfect backdrop for the shipping industry’s commitments.

The combined efforts of these industry leaders are crucial and their commitment to innovation and collaboration could lead to a future where shipping has a much smaller impact on our planet.

This progress would be a significant contribution to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and addressing the urgent issue of climate change.

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