A new report from Environmental Defense Fund and University Maritime Advisory Services (UMAS) has argued that the International Maritime Organization should follow the lead taken by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in promoting the move to sustainable fuels and accounting for emissions.
Specifically, the report looks at how elements of the ICAO’s market-based climate programme, the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), could be adopted in the context of shipping. According to Environmental Defense Fund, ICAO’s sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) framework offers a ‘solid blueprint for the shipping sector’ – but the report also identifies areas where the IMO ‘should be more ambitious than ICAO to ensure that shipping transitions away from fossil fuels’.
Aoife O’Leary, Director with the Environmental Defense Fund, commented: ‘The International Maritime Organization and the shipping industry need to put in place the right rules for alternative fuels to truly drive the decarbonisation of the sector and it does not need to start from scratch. The rules recently adopted by ICAO offer valuable lessons and a good starting place for the IMO to chart its course toward a genuinely sustainable shipping sector.’
The report’s key recommendations include:
- Shipping must adopt a full lifecycle perspective, accounting for all greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, and ensure accurate calculations of both the direct and indirect impacts of emissions associated with the whole supply chain (extraction/production, transport/distribution and combustion) of the fuel.
Environmental Defense Fund said that this would be a ‘complex task’, but maintained that ‘ICAO has successfully done it for aviation and the IMO can use this work to jump-start its own progress’.
- Careful rules must be applied to ensure that the use of biofuels has a real climate benefit. Shipping must ensure that biofuels are not automatically granted a zero-emission status.
Environmental Defense Fund said this was necessary as not all ‘biofuels’ are equally green.
‘The CORSIA framework sets out explicit rules for calculating emissions reductions for each biofuel pathway,’ explained Environmental Defense Fund. ‘It does not automatically allow all biofuels to claim zero carbon combustion emissions (as some other emissions accounting systems have done), as their lifecycle emissions can in some cases approach or even exceed those of petroleum fuels.
‘The report warns the IMO not to create perverse incentives which could promote fuels that could worsen the climate crisis.’
Dr Nishatabbas Rehmatulla, Senior Researcher, UCL and Principal Consultant, UMAS, commented: ‘Using the most appropriate science is key to making the right decisions for our environment. Shipping, as aviation, should ensure that all the emissions from a fuel – from the production to the distribution to the combustion itself – are accounted for if we are to understand the real climate impact. A meaningful policy must incentivise a fair, sustainable and non-perverse shift away from fossil and avoid the risk that emissions are simply shifted elsewhere. Getting this right is mission critical to the shipping industry’s decarbonisation pathway.’
The report also call on the IMO to:
- Adopt strict rules on transparency to ensure that shipping companies accurately report their emissions, and don’t double count emission reductions.
- Allocate adequate resources and draw on the experience and lessons learned from ICAO, where appropriate, to get these rules right.
A full copy of the report can be download here.
The Environmental Defense Fund will be contributing an article about this report in the forthcoming August/September issue of the Bunkerspot magazine.