Environment Ecosystems Sustainable Oceans

UN calls for shipping ‘propulsion revolution’ to avoid ‘environmental disaster’

Sustainable Oceans


In 2019, the global shipping industry launched the Getting to Zero Coalition to cut emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050 and make the transition to full decarbonization possible. The Coalition will deliver a roadmap for zero emissions shipping vehicles.

Perspectives and insights

  • At around 800 million tonnes per year, shipping is responsible for approximately 2.2 per cent of all global emissions.
  • The Global Industry Alliance to Support Low Carbon Shipping (GloMEEP), supports 10 pilot countries to implement energy-efficiency measures,
  • The Global Maritime Technology Network (GMN) unites maritime tech centres that promote ways to improve energy efficiency in the sector,
  • GreenVoyage-2050 is a collaboration between IMO and the Government of Norway, designed to initiate and promote global efforts to test tech solution for reducing shipping emissions.

Xoologue - a discussion between Xoo and Moo

Xoo: How little we think about ships when we think about transport. And yet, shipping is a significant greenhouse gas emitter, emitting as much as the far more prominent aviation industry.

Moo: And now this sector wishes to be low carbon. What are the chances of that happening, Xoo?

Xoo: I’m quite optimistic Moo. For one, I believe there’s significant scope for enhancing energy efficiency in shipping. That alone could make a difference. Energy efficiency is being explored both by enhancing the propulsion efficiency as well as through better design & operating procedures. All these bode well for the industry.

Moo: That’s something to munch on indeed. But what about the fuels that ship can use, fuels that result in low carbon emission?

Xoo: An interesting question, Moo. In the short term, I see only biofuels as a feasible low-carbon alternative to the currently used fossil fuels. But biofuels present their own challenges all along their value chain, so I’m not sure if biofuels could contribute significantly right away.

Moo: What about electric shipping, Xoo? Battery-operated ships?

Xoo: You will need a helluva lot of batteries to propel a ship.

Moo: But it’s feasible to have electric ships?

Xoo: Well, I can only say they are more feasible than electric aircrafts.