The IMO 2030 GHG Targets – Coming to a Port near you as soon as 2023

After a transition to IMO 2020, shipowners are now facing their next big challenge — the 2030 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  As mandated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), by 2030, carbon dioxide emissions should be reduced by at least 40% from 2008 levels, and should be reduced by 50% by 2050, as measured by emissions per transport work or the amount of carbon produced per ship, according to the mandate. However, no decision has yet been made on how to achieve those goals.

  While LNG is the best solution for transition, many forecasters think it will ultimately phase out by the middle of the century in favor of other carbon free alternatives.  Shipowners see LNG as a steppingstone to a using lower carbon fuels once these technologies rise above the pilot stages. 

Technologies like ammonia or methanol are most likely to be developed sooner than hydrogen with fuel cells being solutions with a longer development cycle.  Bio Diesel is being pilot tested by a few shipowners.  The transition toward cleaner fuels may not be linear.   Many types of fuel will be developed and scaled up over the next 15-20 years.  Shipping must prepare for and start on a decarbonization pathway this decade

Some forecasters see the demand for cleaner fuels affecting trade rules, with intense economic and technological competition between the U.S. and China leading to the deglobalization of trade toward more regional trade patterns. For example, dual-fueled vessels powered by batteries may be an option for those shorter “shuttle type” trips. 

Consistent regulatory frameworks combined with incentives are key to meeting the IMO mandates, some of which take effect as early as 2023.  To drive the development of new technologies, the framework must ensure that there is an actual availability of these fuels, that they are safe, and they are reasonably affordable.  

The pace of any transition to carbon-neutral fuels will have major implications for the shipbuilding value chain and the land-based fuel supply chain.  The pathway to will most likely be dual fuel solutions such as methanol and very low sulfur oil.  Many shipowners are looking hard at newbuilds with conventional fuel engines but will allow for the vessel to be capable for a cleaner fuel conversion by 2030.    

Published by MKD PV50

Margaret Kaigh Doyle has spent three decades working in the maritime and energy sectors. Doyle served four terms as an appointed member of the US Coast Guard Chemical Transportation Advisory Committee (CTAC), most recently chairing its LNG Fuels Subcommittee. In 2014, Doyle was responsible for developing and delivering the first set of LNG Bunkering Courses in North America. In 2017, she worked as a member of the prep team for Eagle LNG Partners Talleyrand Bunkering Depot, designed and built specifically to fuel the Crowley Dual Fuel ConRo Vessels. Doyle has also participated on the U.S. Delegation to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on LNG matters and serves as a value contributor to the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), SEALNG and the Society for Marine Gas as Fuel (SGMF). She is a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and holds advanced degrees in engineering from The George Washington and Pennsylvania State Universities.

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