As COP26 readies to open its doors to delegates from around the world, those in the maritime industry are eagerly waiting see how the discussions made there will impact them. That said, the bigger impact will flow out of the IMO’s meeting taking place a few days later in London.
There has been a lot of pressure, from those outside as well as some inside the industry, for IMO to revise its original goal of reaching a 50% reduction in emissions by 2050 to becoming zero carbon instead. With recent reports announcing “Code Red for Humanity”, zero carbon by 2050 is seen as necessary by researchers to avoid a climate calamity.
Yet much is needed in the industry to reach zero carbon and too much focus on purely switching to alternative fuels may not lead to significant changes in the near term given the infrastructure requirements, increased operating costs, and lack of standardization. So while the industry will ultimately have to follow the IMO’s decisions, owners can start to take action now to reduce their carbon footprints in ways that also lead to better cost efficiency.
Operational technologies like AI based navigation models designed to reduce anchorage time as well as propulsion technology like wind rotor sails are examples immediately available. As climate-change science becomes harder to refute and adopted by more and more governments, it is imperative that the maritime industry takes a leadership role to both drive cost efficiencies sooner rather than later and avoid becoming a global scape goat which will affect everything from operating costs to talent recruitment.