There is growing interest around the globe in the development of green shipping corridors, aimed at creating trade routes that respond to the aims of the green transition and allow companies worldwide to access climate funding and open doors to environmentally conscious consumers. A green shipping corridor is a route between different ports that uses zero-emissions shipping methods. It requires the use of green technologies and regulations that support green shipping operations. The location of these routes can vary from short, domestic routes to longer, cross-country links, with the latter being more complex due to the need for multiple parties to agree on the rules and regulations of the route.
The development of green shipping corridors is becoming more attractive as countries and maritime companies strive to support a green transition. At present, the shipping industry contributes around 3 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, releasing around 1 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. Meanwhile, shipping accounts for 80 percent of world trade, a figure that is expected to increase thanks to globalization and growing populations. Yet, shipping is considered a hard-to-abate industry when it comes to emissions, relying heavily on fossil fuels to power vessels and in-port operations. Related: U.S. Drillers Cut Drilling Activity Amid Stabilizing Oil Prices
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) aims to halve the industry’s emissions by 2050, which will require huge investments in clean technologies, modern vessels, port infrastructure, green shipping fuels, and the digitalization of operations. The creation of green shipping corridors is expected to support the decarbonization of the shipping industry by encouraging various powers to work towards a collective aim.
In September this year, the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Shanghai announced plans to develop the “World’s first transpacific green shipping corridor”. The ports are working with some of the world’s biggest shipping companies and cargo owners, such as CMA CGM, COSCO Shipping Lines Co., Ltd., Maersk, and ONE, to develop the Green Shipping Corridor Partnership. The trio has unveiled their Green Shipping Corridor Implementation Plan Outline, aimed at decreasing carbon emissions on one of the world’s busiest container shipping routes in the Pacific Ocean.
The development comes as part of the C40 Cities scheme, which aims to decarbonize several of the world’s biggest cities. The group hopes to launch the first reduced or zero lifecycle carbon capable ships on the route by as early as 2025. It is not just the corridor that will be decarbonized but also some of the world’s busiest ports, which could provide a blueprint for other major ports to follow. The Partnership will be looking to expand the use of onshore power, as well as develop infrastructure to support the production of green shipping fuels.
Gene Seroka, the Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles, stated, “This trans-Pacific green corridor will be a model for the global cooperation needed to accelerate change throughout the maritime industry. Reducing emissions in this corridor will yield substantial reductions. For perspective, most of the emissions associated with moving cargo by ship occur in the mid-ocean part of the journey between ports. This corridor will help reduce mid-ocean emissions while continuing the work we have done to cut emissions within our ports.”
Meanwhile, the CEO of the Port of Long Beach, Mario Cordero, explained, “This initiative will drive emissions reductions across the world’s largest ocean and lead to greener practices from supply chain participants along these vital trade routes. The new and innovative vessel technologies, increased availability of sustainable fuels and better practices created through this green corridor will also impact society’s transition to a cleaner future far beyond the areas served by our ports.”
This announcement was followed by the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Canada’s West Coast and ports in the United Arab Emirates, Korea, and Japan to develop a ‘West Green Shipping Corridor’ to link North America and Asia. Pablo Rodriguez, Canada’s Minister of Transport, announced the plan at the COP28 climate summit. The corridor will run through several Canadian ports, including Prince Rupert, Vancouver, and Edmonton, and connect to several major ports in Asia and the Middle East, crossing the shortest route of water between North America and Asia. Ships on the route are expected to use clean fuels, such as ammonia, hydrogen, and methanol, produced in Canada.
The launch of this initiative follows the 2022 publication of The Canadian Green Shipping Corridors Framework, demonstrating Canada’s commitment to developing its green shipping sector. Rodriguez stated, “Working together is essential to a greener, more sustainable future. Through this Memorandum of Understanding, we are harnessing our collective will, investments, and momentum to ensure the global marine sector is secure, reliable, and sustainable. We’re setting a course for a net-zero future.”
Until recently, long-distance green shipping corridors have been nothing more than a pipedream. However, the announcement of plans for two major new routes this year suggests that we can expect to see more green shipping initiatives over the next decade, as several global powers work together to develop key routes in support of a global green transition.
By Felicity Bradstock for Oilprice.com
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