THE climate crisis is real and a greenhouse gas plan will go a long way to mitigating its effects. Greenhouse gas emissions come from human activities such as burning oil, coal and gas. They trap heat in the atmosphere, retaining it for decades or even centuries, warming the Earth and consequently increasing global temperatures. This sets off a domino effect that affects environmental conditions, food and water supply, weather and sea levels, causing planetary distress.
The shipping industry generates around 940 million tonnes of CO2 per year, which represents around 2.5% of total global CO2 emissions. Burning fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel to transport people and goods is a big source of CO2. This activity includes transport providers such as land vehicles, air transport and maritime transport.
In an effort to avert this unfolding crisis, shipping industry leaders are gathering in June for the 78th session of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee ( IMO MEPC 78) to further discuss the development of the IMO Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Plan.
According to the World Shipping Council (WSC), there are six action plans to facilitate the maritime energy transition:
1) An international carbon price to level the playing field between low and zero GHG ships and old ships running on conventional fuels.
2) Encourage first movers to use green fuels, which reduce GHG emissions.
3) IMO Member States and energy suppliers can unite for the integrated development of international production and delivery of GHG-free fuels.
4) A Green Corridors Program to accelerate a fair energy and technology transition, introducing GHG-free ships and fuels on trade routes. The WSC says this will “accelerate the development of best practices and encourage IMO Member States and interested parties to focus on government-to-government initiatives and coordinated public-private investments to build the production facilities and necessary supply infrastructure”.
5) New construction standards at the service of the energy transition
6) Applied R&D for on-board and on-shore solutions can be adopted to enable the safe use of GHG-free fuels on board green ships. This will help avoid mishaps. R&D efforts will also focus on the development of technologies using green fuels on board transoceanic vessels.
These measures are taken to allow the IMO to achieve its objective of reducing emissions by 50% by 2050. The Australian author Delia Falconer recalls in her book Signs and Wonders that “In 2018, some scientists were saying that we had a critical window of only twelve years to save the planet… In 2019, others revised the critical window to eighteen months.”
She noted that “[s]scientists are trained to approach data with caution and to avoid colorful or emotional language.”
So when these usually restrained professionals express shock, you have to be careful. “In recent years,” Falconer observed, “some have begun to speak openly about their ‘ecological grief’.” Emergency situations call for drastic measures.
The good news is that Smart Green Shipping (SGS), a British company, has developed a solution, using satellite data, to develop technology that will help the shipping industry reduce its CO2 emissions and meet its target.
Again, a crisis of this magnitude requires the collaborative effort of multiple institutions, for the simple reason that, to use an appropriate metaphor, we are all in the same boat. Danish architect Bjarke Ingels said it best: “The one thing that all humans share is that we all inhabit the same limited amount of real estate, which is planet Earth.”
American author Herman Melville had had extensive experience and many adventures as a sailor, which gave him more than enough material for many novels focusing on life at sea. them is Moby Dick, a literary tribute to the whaling industry. But he wrote other sea-centric novels – Billy Budd, Typee, A Romance of the South Sea, Omoo, A Narrative of Adventures in the South Sea, Redburn: His First Voyage – all characterized by flawless descriptions of the life of a sailor. .
Perhaps it was this vast experience of life at sea, of literally being “in the same boat” with others, upon whom he depended and who in turn depended on him for safety and survival, that gave this valuable insight into cooperation and interdependence: “We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers our actions function as causes and come back to us as results.
It’s an idea that will stand us in good stead as we fight for the survival of planet Earth.